Editorial: I Phone the FBI

By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher

FBI Director James Comey has taken a cheap kick at our right to keep our phone conversations, pictures, personal records, banking data, and contacts to ourselves.

Using the horrific killings in San Bernardino as the shattered front door to waltz through, Comey is demanding Apple give a software backdoor to break open the one of the killer’s iPhones. Apple’s encryption is so good the FBI can’t get into it, especially after they goofed up and changed the password just after they attained the phone.

Thank Benjamin Franklin that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is fighting for us. In an open letter to his customers he concludes, “And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.” As the inventor of the lightning rod said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Supposedly, about 51 percent of Americans agree with the FBI, while 41 percent side with Apple, according to SurveyMonkey Inc., an online pollster. The media spin is on against Apple.

What I have noted analyzing media coverage on this question is how the national media is really smooching up to the FBI. But then again that’s nothing new, most of the media have denigrated the greatest whistle blower of our time Edward Snowdon, who I think should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his exposure of the NSA illegal and absolutely pervasive invasion of our privacy by blanket collections of our conversations.

Our government has no boundaries of propriety or loyalty at home or abroad; our NSA has even bugged the cell phone of our ally Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.

One key argument is that if the backdoor to the iPhone is opened, who is to say who all will walk through that aperture? As was noted on The Diane Rehm Show being guest-hosted by Susan Page on Tuesday morning, every aspiring hacker and cyber criminal gang in the world will now have a new greatest goal, to get through to the FBI’s new access. Have government electronics been breached before?

Absolutely, as Voice of America reported, “The second attack on the Office of Personnel Management, or OPM, allowed hackers to access highly sensitive background information submitted by intelligence and military personnel for security clearances for several agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, anonymous U.S. officials said. China is the chief “suspect” for that hack.

It was furthermore pointed out on the NPR show that a brand new division of the FBI or Justice Department and even Apple itself would have to be created to deal with all the requests that would come myriad law enforcement offices to gain entry to the content of “suspects” iPhones.

What astounds me is the media not fighting this FBI invasion with every megabyte available. Don’t we in the media believe in protecting our sources? If this demanded backdoor opens, who’s to say that any iPad, Apple computer and specifically any iPhone used by a journalist is safe from government intrusion?

Speak to your congressman and senator. Write a letter to the White House. As the new apple of my patriotic eye Tim Cook said in his letter, “This case is about much more than a single phone.” Tell the FBI to back out of the door to our privacy and freedom.

If Apple’s Cook wins against the FBI, I will buy an iPhone. And since Window’s Bill Gates just came out on the side of the FBI against his major competition (surprise) and us, I think I’ll switch all my business and personal computer over to Macs. Aside from wondering what backdoors Gates has allowed, I hear Macs don’t get all those viruses that Windows machines do.

Cook should really thank the FBI: they just gave him the best commercial for the iPhone he’s ever had.

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