The Apple Encryption Debate, Just The Facts Please!

In The Apple Encryption Debate, Can We Just Have The Facts Please?

How to join the network I’m about to take a radical position in the encryption debate between Apple and the FBI: I’m undecided. As Apple and federal law enforcement continue to hurl rhetoric about encryption, one thing has become crystal clear: today’s encryption debate is neither healthy nor well-informed. Encryption’s role in privacy – and security – is too important for intractable opinions. A thoughtful debate is vital because Congress ultimately will need to decide whether to pass a law that provides the government with access to encrypted communications in extraordinary circumstances. Our Constitution leaves it to Congress to weigh the benefits and costs of legislation and ultimately make a policy judgment. The encryption debate, which has been simmering for more than a year, came to a head this month after the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a search warrant for the work iPhone of Syed Riswaan Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters. Because the iPhone is encrypted, the FBI needs Farook’s PIN code to access the information. A federal magistrate judge granted the FBI’s request to order Apple to disable a feature that automatically wipes the data from an iPhone after 10 incorrect PIN attempts, effectively allowing the FBI to guess thousands of combinations until it identifies the correct PIN. The order has sparked some of the most passionate debates about technology policy ever. Unfortunately, both sides have shown little willingness to compromise, acknowledge weaknesses in their arguments, or present comprehensive facts about criminals’ use of encryption. That needs to change. For instance, Apple’s supporters have framed the FBI’s actions as “ a fundamental threat to our Fourth Amendment rights .” The Apple dispute may be about a lot of things, but the Fourth Amendment isn’t one of them. Before even seeking the court order, the federal […]