Making Sense Of The Apple/FBI Brouhaha By John Birmingham

Making Sense Of The Apple/FBI Brouhaha By John Birmingham
SHARE
THIS



In this guest post famed Aussie author and scribe John Birmingham tries to make sense of the current spat between the FBI and Apple. If you enjoy spats then you’ll enjoy this…

Apple does not advise you stick the primary wing feather of a large bird into your iPhone, but the US Government is insisting on doing just that anyway. It won’t be good for your phone. The All Writs Act, the nail-studded legislative club with which the FBI intends to beat Cupertino into submission, was written before electricity was even a thing.

In those days, the US Supreme Court did all of its work with giant goose quill pens. In one of those strange anachronisms which so delight lawyers, twenty goose quill pens — neatly laid out like the crossed bones of a pirate flag — are still placed at the four counsel tables in front of the full bench of the Court every hearing day.

Apple’s lawyers will undoubtedly souvenir a couple for themselves when they go all the way to the Supremes to protect your phone from the FBI’s figurative but pointy goose quill. The Feebs have been planning to jab Tim Cook like this for years.

They were just waiting on the right case, and the mass shooting by husband and wife Sayed Farook and Tashfeen Malik in San Bernadino last December was the atrocity they had been praying for. The killers weren’t the sort of psychopaths the NRA would rush to defend. They were Muslims, with the beard and the black tent dress and everything. They were terrorists — or at least they looked like terrorists — and that was enough for FBI Director James Comey. He had the gotcha he’d been looking for.

Apple might be the world’s most valuable listed company (you’d have to check Google’s share price at the close of trading) — selling hundreds of millions of beloved iPhones every year — but if it resisted the Feebs on this, it ran a serious risk of being shit-canned as friends and allies of the guys who flew the planes into the Twin Towers. That’s how politics works, and Apple was being sucked into the vortex.

Tim Cook’s refusal to yield was brave — although he knew that, as details of the case trickled out, the government would look less and less righteous. For instance, they needed Apple to get into Farook’s 5C because they had, er, well, you know, changed the passcode themselves, and, erm, sort of, you know, forgotten it, or something. Anyway, Tim, could you just do us a solid and unlock the damn thing?

Just getting started

He also knew they weren’t just talking about unlocking this one damn thing. They had another twenty phones stacked up behind it. And behind them, when the precedent was set, would come another twenty or thirty or forty government agencies demanding they get access to people’s phones, iPads and computers. Before long, Sheriff Buford T. Beanland of Buttecracke County would be up in Cook’s face waving a bag full of phones he was certain contained incriminatin’ sex pictures in his important chicken-sexing case.

Cook also knew, and made plain, that James Comey wasn’t just asking for a hack around a passcode. If the passcode (the one the FBI changed, if you remember) was a sort of magic ribbon protecting the dead man’s 5C, Comey wasn’t asking Cook to cut the ribbon. He was ordering him to build a factory that would turn out bespoke ribbon cutters for the FBI — now and in perpetuity.

Naturally, the FBI only wants to talk about the accursed Farook, but once Apple has been forced to build it the magic ribbon cutter, Sheriff Beanland will want his and the IRS will want theirs, and on it will go until somebody like the Chinese secret police (and the not so secret police) demand their own ribbon cutters too.

James Comey is the Oprah Winfrey of state surveillance — “You get a ribbon cutter and you get a ribbon cutter and you get a ribbon cutter …”

You might not care if ASIO or DSD gets to perve on your sexy texts and naughty pics, but if you’re in business you might care if your competitors can access the code that gives them a ribbon cutter to slice through the security on all of your data.

That is the scenario Apple is resisting. That is why the other tech giants are lining up behind it. They couldn’t care less about Sayed Farook.

This article originally appeared on B&T’s sister business site www.which-50.com

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

AI – To Join It Or To Beat It
  • Media
  • Opinion

AI – To Join It Or To Beat It

I'm afraid we can't let you read this piece Dave! That's a joke about A Space Odyssey 2001, young B&T readers.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
AnalogFolk Opens In Shanghai
  • Advertising

AnalogFolk Opens In Shanghai

AnalogFolk has opened in Shanghai and, as B&T's trusty Funk & Wagnalls atlas tell us, is somewhere near Wollongong.

Social TV – Will You Be At The Party?
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Opinion

Social TV – Will You Be At The Party?

Can't keep-up with the goings-on in the Aussie TV industry? Well, hit the couch, pull on the trakkie daks & peruse this.

Opinion

by Rochelle Burbury

Rochelle Burbury
JWT Melbourne Hooks John West’s Creative
  • Advertising

JWT Melbourne Hooks John West’s Creative

You'd only need snog a B&T staffer to know of our affection for the John West oysters in aspic & smoked mackerel ranges.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Sydney-Based Tech Marketing Firm, Law Of The Jungle, Scoops Top International Gong
  • Marketing

Sydney-Based Tech Marketing Firm, Law Of The Jungle, Scoops Top International Gong

Sydney-based online cloud solution for marketing compliance, Law of the Jungle, has beaten the world’s best firms to win a prestigious RegTech Markets 2017 Spotlight Award. RegTech Markets, a global community for regulatory technology, inaugurated these awards to “shine a light on the world’s best and brightest RegTech companies”.  A panel of 30 industry experts […]

Is This The Bleakest Christmas Ad Ever?
  • Campaigns

Is This The Bleakest Christmas Ad Ever?

Tired of pretty people pulling bon-bons in your Christmas campaigns? Well, here's one to slash the wrists to instead.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
The Truth About Native Advertising!
  • Opinion

The Truth About Native Advertising!

Do you stammer about the office, railing against native advertising's great untruths? Read this and stop scaring people.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Why Are We Only Just Starting To Use VR To Train Staff?
  • Opinion
  • Technology

Why Are We Only Just Starting To Use VR To Train Staff?

In this opinion piece, PHD’s news business and marketing manager, Chloe Hooper (pictured below), argues why all agencies should be embracing VR to change the way they operate internally. Virtual reality (VR) is something most of us have had exposure to, but how many of us are really exploiting its potential to grow our people […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
PRIA Announces Winners Of 41st National Golden Target Awards
  • Marketing

PRIA Announces Winners Of 41st National Golden Target Awards

The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) last night announced the winners of the 41st National Golden Target Awards at a glittering ceremony hosted by Aussie actor and TV host Shane Jacobson at the Sydney Opera House. A sold-out crowd of more than 160 PR and communication professionals from around the country came together to […]

Personalisation At Scale: Targeting Audiences With People-based Marketing
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Personalisation At Scale: Targeting Audiences With People-based Marketing

In this opinion piece, Indy Khabra (pictured below), national managing director at Amnet ANZ, explains power of the the people-based marketing equation, and also reminds marketers that they cannot afford to take data for granted. We are all talking about it. We all want it. We are all trying to get it. It’s that one-to-one […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine