Trying to take a bite out of Apple Inc., the FBI descended into a hell of its own when Director James B. Comey demanded that the tech giant create special software that bypasses an iPhone’s passcode, violating the privacy protections it guarantees to all of its customers.
“The path to hell starts at the backdoor,” stated Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, who called on the computer industry to support his own company’s rival and “stand with Apple in this important case.”
The case initially involved hacking the iPhone 5C of one of the husband-and-wife assailants responsible for the deadly San Ber – nardino, Cali fornia, shooting spree and later killed in a firefight with police. But the matter soon evolved into a frontal attack by the FBI and other government agencies on the very idea of encrypting smartphones and online devices to keep their data private.
Clearly intending to send a warning, Comey told the House Judiciary Committee, “The logic of encryption will bring us in the not-too-distant future to a place where all of our conversations and all of our papers and effects are entirely private.” As if it’s a bad thing that the thoughts in our head should be off limits to any prying government.
Individual sovereignty is essential to freedom— that is the standard the U.S. ex per – iment in representative governance has trum peted to the world. The problem for Apple and any other multinational company selling communication and data-storing devices is that if they facilitate government invasions of privacy in the United States, how can they effectively resist them elsewhere?