Tag: San Bernardino

Apple’s fight against backdoors is about protecting your security, not terrorists

The U.S. FBI is trying to compel Apple to make a change to its software that would allow it to hack into the iPhone of the terrorist behind the San Bernardino shooting. Apple is refusing, citing privacy and security concerns of its users.

This case isn’t about protecting terrorists from having their information accessed by the U.S. government, it’s about protecting innocent users. As I argued in December, Americans have the right to encryption devices.

There are many individuals and institutions that are much worse than the U.S. government, and all of them would have the access to the same drives and communications channels as the NSA and FBI.

This particular case has specifics that defenders of the government’s position could argue would limit it to only a small amount of phones–for more on the specifics, I would recommend reading Slate’s Will Oremus or Ben Thompson’s Stratechery–but the principle of information security should be applied forthrightly. After all, if someone argues that, because it is not as easy to hack into new iPhones as it is to hack into the old 5C the shooter was using, Apple should go ahead and do it, then they are leaving the door open for hacking into later versions of the phone if any when it becomes technologically feasible to do so (or to have the government compel Apple to make it possible in new versions).

Remember: Any precedent that applies to (suspected, or, in this case, proven) terrorists applies to everyone. Someone wrongly suspected of crimes or someone the government has self-interest in hacking could be next, and the backdoor could be used by foreign governments or hackers.

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Weekly Reading List: What to read before the Vegas GOP debate

Tonight the Republicans face off in Las Vegas for another presidential debate. Want to bone up on the debate topics? Read these articles.

With the San Bernardino terrorist attack having happened recently, terrorism should be a big topic at the debate. Here is my latest article on terrorism:
Not All Shooting Sprees Are Terrorism

The definition of terrorism in the U.S. Code is a good starting point: “the term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents…”

Think about the fatwa against “The Satanic Verses” or the murder of Theo van Gogh and the Charlie Hebdo attack. The point of each of those brutalities was to scare people into shutting up about Islam. They were largely successes insomuch as many media outlets have subsequently censored publication of newsworthy cartoons mocking Muhammad or Islam.

When James Holmes stepped into the theatre and pulled the trigger, spraying wildly at the 100 or so people watching “The Dark Knight,” what was his motivation? What was he trying to coerce people into doing or refraining from doing? Many of these shootings have no discernible ideological motivation.

Read full article.

The entire Los Angeles Unified School District–640,000 students attended in total–shut down this morning due to terrorist threats sent last night. But New York received similar threats, and the NY authorities say they were a hoax. Here’s ABC News: LA Public Schools Shut Down After Unspecified Threat, but NYC Deems Similar Threat Not Credible.

Trump’s rallies continue to get ugly. As a protester was kicked out, Trump supporters called for him to be beaten or set on fire, and one made a Nazi salute. Here’s NBC News: Trump Audience Member Yells Nazi Salute as Protester Removed From Las Vegas Rally.

Marco Rubio continues to do well in general election polls. In one, he even threatens to win the youth vote from the Democrats. Here’s Slate’s analysis: Why Young Voters May Choose Marco Rubio Over Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump is feeling threatened by Ted Cruz, who is rising in the Iowa polls, and has taken aim at him. He even questioned Cruz’s religious views by citing Cruz’s father’s country of origin. As Tommy Christopher at Mediaite said, it is a racist attack: Donald Trump Goes Full Racist on Ted Cruz and Nobody Notices.

Even the right-wing fever swamp dwellers who usually support Trump may be turned off by him going after a conservative hero. Radio talk show host Mark Levin, often a critic of the so-called “establishment,” fired back at Trump: Mark Levin Slams Trump For Calling Ted Cruz a ‘Maniac’.

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