Apple Takes a Stand among the Silicon Valley Pygmies

Ideas and Issues

50470_1_fbi-orders-apple-build-iphone-backdoor-cook-explainsNew Orleans   I’ve never been a big Apple fan. Sure we started with Apple IIe’s and then Macs back in the day, but as they upgraded, they priced us out both organizationally and personally. They scream 1% around the world. Then there was Steve Jobs who I found hard to love for his abusive handling of his co-workers, whatever else might be said about him. I just didn’t want to be part of a cult.

But to modify the old saw, the sun shines on an a different old dog every day, we might say, and Apple deserves praise for standing tall in the face of government intrusion, while so many of the Silicon Valley giants prove themselves to be pygmies when it matters. Even better, they didn’t pick an easy time to draw a line as they said, “no,” to a judge’s order to crack the contents of the San Bernardino terrorist and mass murderer in order to help the FBI on its appointed rounds. Predictably, the Republican yahoos running for president went wild on this issue, accusing Apple of everything possible including aiding and abetting ISIS, and equally predictably, the Democratic candidates buttoned their lips to see how the whole valley would react to Apple’s courage since that is a field they harvest in this season for huge campaign contributions.

Some of this issue is deep in the weeds past all of us techno-peasants to sort out, but Apple is saying that the FBI is asking them to create a “backdoor” in hacker-speak to break the encryption, while the government is saying, hey, dudes, do us a favor on just this one phone. Many find it incredible that the government couldn’t hack the phone, but they claim that they had to ask because they were up to the limit of ten tries before the phone would shut down, almost Mission Impossible style, and be past the point of return. Having recently been forced to refile a visa application to India because their website cancels everything after three unsuccessful efforts to pay them money, I am fully ready to believe almost anything is possible.

The back story turns out to be that this push-and-shove between the feds and techies has been going on at Apple for over a year with one request after another on beefs from drugs to whatever until finally my guess is the government figured they had a game changer where they could claim that national security trumps corporate interests. Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, stepped in and posted a letter to I-phone phreaks explaining that the company had refused the judge’s order and would fight the mess.

Experts believe that Apple may lose this battle, but will win the war. Cynics, and count me as one here too, believe that Apple will make megabucks whether it’s heads or tails. Now their global market will be protected because they are sending a message they are not America’s bitch, so cha-ching. And, if they lose, trust me all of the next gazillion upgrades will transfer encryption breaks to customer controlled password protections, so that there will be no back door possibilities without the customer’s permission, thereby absolving Apple in the future, and transferring the problem and permission to the phone holder to protect or yield on their own privacy. Oh, and forcing Apple fans to buy one of these new up-to-date super-encryption protected phones as well. Cha-Ching!

As for the rest of Silicon Valley,Twitter and Google kinda-sorta sided with Cook and Apple without mentioning their names, and Facebook and Amazon, big boys with command-and-control issues decided to hide out and hoped that no one notices they are big fat chickens, cluck, cluck, clucking too afraid to cross or draw any line on the road.


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