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Apple and the FBI have captured the public’s attention by battling over unlocking the San Bernardino shooter’s phone, but this is about more than one terrorist attack. This is a power struggle over the future of digital communication.
Encryption seems opaque and impossibly complex, and that’s the point. Even though it has only recently entered the popular lexicon, humans have been using encryption to keep secrets hidden since ancient Greece.
Now it’s an essential component to everyone’s electronic communication, and the United States security apparatus is essentially demanding unilateral power over its on/off switch.
A judge ordered Apple to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to help the FBI unlock San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone 5c, which seems like a reasonable request.
After all, it has the word reasonable in it.
But like many vague government directives, its request is far from the definition of the word it uses. What the FBI really wants Apple to do can best be explained by the world’s most notorious hacker.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 17, 2016
Granted, there are so many layers to the Snowden story that you have to take everything he says with infinite grains of salt, but the man clearly knows his tech.
He’s pretty much stuck where he is for the rest of his life, so it’s hard to see how criticizing the FBI benefits him in any way (unless you believe that he’s a Russian operative, but that’s a discussion for another day).
This isn’t just about hacking into this one phone. The FBI wants Apple to build them a cyber weapon that bypasses encryption on iPhones around the world.
Encryption has been a central debate in the intelligence community for quite some time, and lines have clearly been drawn between civil cabinets and law enforcement, as the Obama administration has offered conflicting messages on this topic.
Leslie Caldwell, the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division alluded to the need to bypass encryption at a technology policy conference earlier this year:
“The Department of Justice is completely committed to seeking and obtaining judicial authorization for electronic evidence collection in all appropriate circumstances. But once that authorization is obtained, we need to be able to act on it if we are to keep our communities safe and our country secure.”
Ironically enough, the very next person to speak at that conference was another top Obama official at the Federal Trade Commission, Terrell McSweeny, and he offered a diametrically opposite opinion:
“As a person charged with thinking about consumer protection, I deeply worry about things like mandatory backdoors. We need to be very mindful of consumer data security, and we should be very, very careful about anything that undermines that data security.”
James Comey, the director of the FBI, is one of the chief architects of the case against encryption, as he laid out in his famous 2014 “going dark” speech:
And if the challenges of real-time interception threaten to leave us in the dark, encryption threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place.
You can see this schism in on the campaign trail too. Here’s the child of the former head of the CIA Jeb Bush’s take:
“If you create encryption, it makes it harder for the American government to do its job — while protecting civil liberties — to make sure that evildoers aren’t in our midst. We need to find a new arrangement with Silicon Valley in this regard because I think this is a very dangerous kind of situation.”
Compare that to former HP CEO/former Presidential candidate/future Fox News analyst Carly Fiorina:
“I certainly support that we need to tear down cyber walls, not on a mass basis, but on a targeted basis. I do not believe that we need to wholesale destroy every American citizen’s privacy in order to go after those that we know are suspect or are already a problem. But yes, there is more collaboration required.”
So why is the private sector so concerned with protecting encryption? Apple’s stance doesn’t seem to be based on firm principle since they have unlocked iPhones for the feds at least 70 times before.
This is a high-profile case, so what Apple does or does not do will be scrutinized infinitely more than those 70 instances combined, and the public has never been more sensitive to the security state than it is right now.
Apple doesn’t want to hurt their brand. Plus, what the FBI is demanding is unprecedented. They’re ordering Apple to build a backdoor into its seminal product.
That’s not something that can only be controlled by one party; once a backdoor exists, anyone with the wherewithal can access it.
The second the FBI uses this new software to bypass encryption, the race will be on to reverse engineer it, and if/when this type of technology falls into the wrong hands, a huge chunk of mankind’s digital infrastructure would be compromised (not to mention the horrors authoritarian regimes around the world would inflict on their people with this weapon).
Given that our security state already looks like a Orwellian fever dream, we should heed President Dwight Eisenhower’s prescient warning from his farewell address and support Apple in this fight:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.
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-Top Golf opened its first South Florida location late last year in Miami Gardens.
-The massive facility has proven to be a hit with locals who want a twist on a classic game.
-The company says that over 500 people work at the location, which is located near the Golden Glades Interchange.
-Over a 10 year period, the Miami Gardens location is expected to have a $25 million economic impact on the region.
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After running the most racist and divisive campaign that America has seen since 1968, Donald Trump is dangerously close to becoming President.
While most national polls show Hillary Clinton with a solid lead, the margin is still too close for comfort in many states. Trump does still have a path to victory, no matter how narrow it may be.
This should be a horrifying fact for believers in American democracy.
If people who share common sense and a notion of basic decency don’t show up to the polls today, we could elect an authoritarian as our leader.
Our very Republic is in dire danger.
We are not in the business of endorsing candidates at RISE NEWS.
But Donald Trump is the greatest internal threat that this nation has faced in modern history.
His lack of knowledge of American history and how our Constitution works is troubling.
His stoking of white nationalism and racial hatred is un-American.
His foreign policy would put us in league with dictators and despots the world over as his isolationism is mixed with a virulent form of imperialism.
His lack of compassion and basic human empathy profoundly scares us.
He is more sociopath than political leader.
His treatment of women shows us how much of a pig he truly is- a relic that should be thrown on the trash-heap of history, not allowed to lead the most dynamic nation into a new decade.
His conspiracy theories are manifold.
In Trump’s mind, climate change is a Chinese conspiracy, Barack Obama was born in Kenya, Mexico intentionally sends rapist and murderers to undermine American security and Hillary Clinton engages in nightly satanic rituals.
He is a man who has gaslighted America and lied more than a junkie trying to get a fix.
He has retweeted white supremacists, embraced a hate symbol and has been endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan.
He got into a fight with the Pope.
He has attacked journalists and the bedrock Constitutional right of a free press by promising to open up libel laws.
He has made fun of the disabled because he is a heartless thug who cares about nothing more than settling scores.
Despite his self-proclaimed massive wealth, there is no record of him giving much away to charity.
He has no real ideology, doesn’t study the issues and can’t even be trusted with a Twitter account.
He is a strongman and yet still a weak little child.
The American Putin, the Mugabe of Manhattan.
He has debased our politics, darkened our glow on the global stage and showed our children that character doesn’t matter as long as you have money.
As Jefferson said once, “Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”
Trump has already done so many things that the rest of us would never be able to get away with.
If elected as President, he would do the same.
Except then, he would have nuclear weapons.
SAVE THE REPUBLIC. BEAT TRUMP TODAY.
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