Just over a week ago Apple made a public announcement addressing the controversial issue of cybersecurity as its relates to encryption and cooperation federal authorities. I couldn’t be happier with the position they are taking to oppose the F.B.I.’s demand to disable encryption. If you haven’t already, read the message from Apple.
I’ve heard a lot of arguments on both sides: first Bill Gates supports the authorities, now he says it’s not so simple. Google’s CEO (under significant pressure) showed support for the defense of encryption, as did Mark Zuckerberg. To summarize, I believe that Apple is right when it says this would set a dangerous precedent, and this is a very slippery slope.
Mark Cuban on the All Writs Act
One of the best commentaries I’ve heard on the issue is from billionaire investor Mark Cuban. His argument is that eliminating the All Writs Act as a catch-all would significantly flatten out the slippery slope. In excerpt:
Every tool that protects our privacy and liberties against oppression, tyranny, madmen and worse can often be used to take those very precious rights from us. But like we protect our 2nd Amendment Right, we must not let some of the negatives stand in the way of all the positives. We must stand up for our rights to free speech and liberty.
Speech can only be free when it is protected. We are only free when we can say what we feel we must in any manner of private or public that we choose. We have a right to protect our speech from those, domestic or otherwise, who may watch or monitor us. Which is why encryption is vitally important to all of us.
If you think its bad that we can’t crack the encryption of terrorists, it is far worse when those who would terrorize us can use advanced tools to monitor our unencrypted conversations to plan their acts of terror.
This isn’t the first we’ve seen of this debate, and this isn’t the last. Governments hate encryption: it makes spying much more difficult.
Update #1: Tim Cook’s 30-minute long interview with ABC News World is available here. It’s good.
Update #2: This debate between John McAfee and former FBI officer Steve Rogers touches upon many of the important facets