When I was growing up, the FBI was personified by Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and the Highway Patrol by Broderick Crawford.
The G Men and the State Troopers were there to keep us safe from bank robbers and people who would commit carnage on our nation’s highways.
And no little boy in the 50s and 60s would ever think anything different.
We trusted them, and we believed they were the good guys because, for the most part, they were.
They have lost that luster in many cases, and much of what has happened is reflected in the FBI’s ongoing attempt to force Apple to write an entirely new piece of software to hack one of its iPhones, ostensibly to “help” them in the investigation of a now dead terrorist.
It all gets down to who you trust, and frankly, it is an interesting juxtaposition to see Donald Trump complaining about Apple’s actions in this case when his candidacy has been boosted and supported by many of the people who no longer trust the Federal Government to do the right thing. And, as smart as I believe Trump is, he’s being badly misinformed in this case.
Back when I was growing up, it took some research if you wanted to commit a federal crime. There were maybe a few thousand violations of the law which would possibly qualify for the FBI’s attention. Robbing a federally insured bank was a mainstay. So was kidnapping across state lines.
Today, because some clown in Congress is always crying, “There ought to be a law!” there are nearly 5,000 acts for which the FBI can investigate and arrest you. If you mistakenly import wood from a country on Barack Obama’s list, as did the Gibson Guitar Company, you can be a target as they were.
So, before we get all high and mighty about Apple’s “duty” to assist the FBI, let’s put this question in a different form.
Sure, we want to make the world safe from terrorism.
But what if the FBI was—two years after the fact—investigating Cliven Bundy and his guests who made the Bureau of Land Management stand down in 2014? And what if they wanted to hack THEIR iPhones to get evidence against them? (Was the FBI carrying Harry Reid’s water there?)
Or…what if you told your bank a fib on your last Mastercard application and that application only existed and was encrypted in YOUR iPhone? (Yes, you can go to prison for that.)
In point of fact, the FBI can lie to you all day long with no legal consequence; but if you lie to them, you can go to prison. That’s the law. Ask Scooter Libby.
Now do you see the problem?
And that’s only one of a number of problems.
The second problem here is that what this little Federal Magistrate in California has ordered Apple to do is to write a piece of software which doesn’t exist.
Writing software is like writing this column. Could that Magistrate order me to write a column? I think not.
The third problem is that once that software is written, the genie is out of the bottle.
Which returns us to the issue of who do you trust.
This is, after all, the same FBI which orchestrated the killing of one Lavoy Finicum recently in Oregon by the Oregon Highway Patrol. He was killed because he did not comply with the “commands” of law enforcement.
These folks are not Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Broderick Crawford. Do you really want to give them the right to shoot you dead for not obeying their “commands” AND the right to peer into your most private information which you carry with you every day?
Truth be told, I carry an aging iPhone 5, and I had not password-protected it.
Until I discovered that the FBI couldn’t crack Apple’s encryption software.
Now, I’m much more impressed with my iPhone than I used to be..
But, if Apple caves, I’ll find a new phone which is manufactured by a company which won’t.