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

Latest News

Women In Media Profile: Danni Wright
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Danni Wright

We'd be headlining Danni Wright's Women in Media profile the "Wright stuff" if it wasn't utterly predictable and naff.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Industry Generates A Record $10.5m For Social Impact
  • Media

Industry Generates A Record $10.5m For Social Impact

UnLtd, the media, marketing and creative industry’s social purpose organisation has announced a total industry contribution of $10.5m to social impact in FY18. The total value of funds, services, inventory and time donated by the media, marketing and creative industry increased by 21per cent compared to the previous financial year due to a growth in […]

Posterscope Promotes Two
  • Media

Posterscope Promotes Two

Posterscope, Dentsu Aegis Network’s specialist out-of-home agency, has promoted Ryan Hedditch to the newly created position of national head of strategy and Samantha Summers to Sydney Group Business Director. In his new role, Hedditch is charged with driving the continual improvement and transformation of the Posterscope offering to clients and partners. Summers’ promotion will see her lead […]

Outbrain Accelerates Growth With APAC Promotions
  • Media

Outbrain Accelerates Growth With APAC Promotions

Native discovery platformOutbrain has announced several movements in its regional leadership team, with plans to make more new hires. This comes on the heels of two senior appointments it made in February, after closing a record year in the region with expansion into new markets. Yoav Tourel has been promoted to head of sales for […]

Clems Syd & Extra GUM Unveil YouTube Digital Stage
  • Media

Clems Syd & Extra GUM Unveil YouTube Digital Stage

YouTube EXTRA Gum has launched EXTRA Support Acts, a program created to support Australia’s up and coming musicians by transforming pre-roll ads on YouTube into a digital support stage. It has been created in partnership with Clemenger BBDO Sydney as creative lead, Universal Music Australia and BRING for talent and music strategy and content, MediaCom and YouTube. The […]

OMD Australia Tops 2018 RECMA Rankings
  • Media

OMD Australia Tops 2018 RECMA Rankings

OMD Australia has taken the top spot for Australia’s Number 1 media agency in size, according to RECMA’s 2018 ‘Overall Activity Volume Rankings’ report released last week. Additionally, the company was named first in profile classification with a dominant profile for the 3rd consecutive year, along with vitality ranking and structure ranking. Furthermore, OMD Australia was also named […]

Red Agency Bolsters Sydney Team
  • Media

Red Agency Bolsters Sydney Team

Judging by the image, it seems Red Agency may have had no staff whatsoever prior to this hiring spree.

Nine Appoints Editor For 9Honey
  • Media

Nine Appoints Editor For 9Honey

B&T's editor coincidentally spilled honey on his shirt while typing this. And by typing, we mean copy and pasting.

Y&R Sydney Scores Best&Less   
  • Advertising
  • Media

Y&R Sydney Scores Best&Less  

Y&R wins Best&Less amid rumours the clothing shop its changing name to 'Somewhat OK&Reasonably cheap'.

Women In Media Profile: Judy Sahay
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Judy Sahay

B&T's Women in Media profiles are like a wave washing over you. Even more so if an actual wave washes over you.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
How B2B Companies Can Use Their Customer Data More Effectively (And Why They Need To)
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

How B2B Companies Can Use Their Customer Data More Effectively (And Why They Need To)

In this opinion piece, SalesPreso co-founder and CMO Joel Thomson (pictured below) explains how B2B companies can use their data more effectively and deliver a personalised customer experience that matches their B2C counterparts. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the EU’s recent GDPR legislation, this year has prompted individuals all over the world to consider […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
M&C Saatchi Launches THIS Film Studio
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

M&C Saatchi Launches THIS Film Studio

Not one to rest on its laurels, M&C Saatchi unveils new production studio it hasn't called 'Not One To Rest On Laurels'.

Creative Agency Launches Project Management Tool ‘Hassl’
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Creative Agency Launches Project Management Tool ‘Hassl’

Yesterday at TedX Melbourne the team behind award-winning, Melbourne-based agency Your Creative launched their new tech venture Hassl, the project management platform taking on Trello and the likes. With the belief there was a better design solution to project management, the platform has been developed over the last two years in collaboration with their clients. […]

ABC Axes Tom Ballard’s Tonightly
  • Media

ABC Axes Tom Ballard’s Tonightly

It's one of the ABC's edgier, controversial shows, but Tom Ballard's proven too edgy and controversial for ABC chiefs.

Taboola Strengthens APAC Programmatic Offering With New Partnership
  • Advertising
  • Media

Taboola Strengthens APAC Programmatic Offering With New Partnership

Global discovery platform Taboola has announced a strategic partnership with Wider Planet, Korea’s largest demand-side and data management platform. The partnership builds on Taboola’s programmatic efforts in Asia-Pacific, and will bring together Korea’s largest demand platform for agencies and brands to provide access to Taboola’s global audience through premium publisher placements. The partnership means advertisers […]

The Haus Picks Up Two New Clients
  • Marketing

The Haus Picks Up Two New Clients

The Haus announces two new client wins. Admittedly, not as good as winning three, but far better than losing four.