Apple vs the FBI


Opinion written by John Tutten:

Something really stinks about this dust up between the FBI and Apple.  Don’t you wonder why their dispute was made public by the government?  If the FBI was really concerned about protecting we the people, wouldn’t they want to keep secret the fact that they cannot crack into the latest Apple software?  Why would our government announce to the world that they can’t get into any iPhone and in turn confirm to terrorists that they have a secure communications channel shielded from U.S. Government surveillance?

Not only did the FBI confirm to terrorists that they’re communications are safe using iPhones, they then publicly impugned Apple’s response and motives in an apparent attempt to threaten their business if they don’t deliver on what the government wants.  This kind of fascism would have Mussolini nodding in approval.

Make no mistake, this is not about cracking just the one iPhone used in the San Bernardino attacks despite what Marco Rubio and other establishment pundits are proclaiming.  The FBI wants to be able to break into any type of secure consumer communications anytime, anywhere.  And they are using the “terrorism trumps personal privacy” play again as it has been used to erect the vast surveillance apparatus that continues to metastasize.  Don’t fall for this disinformation.

The FBI and Apple would not even be in this “contest” if both the city of San Bernardino and the FBI had handled things right.  The phone belongs to San Bernardino and if they had installed the basic administrative software available for the iPhone, they could have been in complete control of the phone and have access to the totality of its contents today.

And then somewhere in the chain of custody between San Bernardino and the FBI, the iCloud password gets changed making it impossible to gain access to the backed up information there.  Is this just incompetence or perhaps a chance to create an opportunity?

Setting the concern about government surveillance aside for a moment, if Apple is coerced into providing a key that will unlock iPhones as the FBI insists, this will create an exploitable crease in the security software on the device.  Criminal hackers and hostile governments seeking to steal our personal information or instigate potentially damaging mischief could then exploit this crease.  This is what Apple fears and what our government seems willing to accept.  I understand Apple will soon refine their security capability to the point where iPhone software will simply be uncrackable.  I applaud their efforts.

Getting back to the surveillance state issue, this week I happened to catch “America’s Mayor”, Rudy Giuliani, on my formerly favorite fair and balanced channel.  Of course, he was promoting the establishment line about terrorism trumping privacy and Apple just needs to open just this one phone, yada, yada, yada.  He then proclaimed that our government is only grabbing the “metadata” from our communications and that there is not one case of the government misusing the information.  Well, let’s unpack that statement.

First, metadata literally means “data about the data”.  So the government now admits it is capturing phone metadata that includes details about the call but not its content.  In other words, the government knows when you made a call, what phone you made the call from, where you were when you made the call, who you called, their phone number, their location, date, time, duration, etc.  However, they say the content of the call is not being captured.

In addition, this data surveillance mechanism is sweeping up all your web transactions as well.  All of your FaceBook postings, the various web sites you peruse, and internet news sites you visit are all being captured and stored.  The NSA very openly now admits they do this and they cheerfully explain it here:

So, if that’s all they are capturing, why then do they need data repositories the size of the one in Utah?  Affectionately called “Bumblehive” by the NSA, this site cost us over 1.5 billion dollars and occupies about a million square feet.   The data servers installed at the site take up about one hundred thousand of that million square feet.  It consumes 1.5 million gallons of water per day just to keep the servers cool.  Bumblehive’s storage capacity is estimated to be between a few exabytes to one or two yottabytes.  The actual capacity is classified.

Understand when talking about exabytes or yottabytes, we are describing mind-boggling amounts of data storage capacity.  Let’s say that Bumblehive can store one yottabyte of data.  This would enable the facility to store a high definition video of every second of life for everyone who has lived in the United States for the last forty years.  Patriots, even just a few exabytes in capacity so far exceeds the storage requirements for metadata gathering as to make those claims a ridiculous joke.

Couple this with the fact that the government is hiring behavioral specialists as fast as the can to develop search algorithms to sort through all of the social media data they are gathering to understand, predict, and ultimately to influence our behavior.

Is the picture becoming clearer now?  I fear that the billions of dollars of our money that are being spent under the guise of protecting us from terrorism are really being spent to protect the government from us.


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