Apple is right to make a stand

When I arrived on Earth almost three years ago, I couldn’t have given a wild zalgaar’s behind about security. Even when it was disclosed that the United States was basically living in a cyber-surveillance dystopia, I didn’t mind so much. I’ve already spent the better part of my life living in an alien hive mind. Why should I care about what the government knows about me?

What would they know about me, anyway? I’m a brain parasite. I want humanity enslaved for the Empire. I’ve got nothing to hide.

However, I’m going to make this personal for most of you. If you don’t care about security, and you don’t use computers or smartphones at all, good for you. You can stop reading. This may not concern you.

I’d fathom that most of you, however, have some kind of computer, if not a really small one that fits snugly in your pocket. I’d also fathom that you have a lot of really important information saved on that computer, right? Bank details? Phone numbers of friends and family? That copy of “Spiceworld” that you’re ashamed to admit that you listen to on a daily basis? All of that is at stake at the moment.

The FBI wants to get inside the phone of one of the shooters from the terrorist attack in San Bernardino late last year, and they want Apple’s help to get in.

Let’s elaborate on what “Apple’s help” means in this case. The FBI wants Apple to create a backdoor to the iPhone. For those of you not fluent in nineties-hacker lingo, a backdoor is a program that allows illicit individuals to bypass security measures on a computer to access it. They can take many forms, from programs to physical chips, like the Clipper chip that the NSA developed back in 1993. Yes, that’s right. This isn’t the government’s first attempt to bypass this kind of thing.

Now, Apple is refusing to cooperate with the FBI for the same reason that the Clipper wasn’t adopted. It was a horrendous idea. The government may have the best intentions when they ask for a backdoor, but “the government” means a whole lot of people. Who’s to say that there’s not at least one bad apple in that lot? If that bad apple is on the Internet, you can bet that this backdoor isn’t going to be a secret for very long. If someone wants in on your iPhone’s data, and you set a better password than “password” or “12345678,” they can use that backdoor to get in.

congratulations from UPD to UAA graduates
- Advertisement -

I don’t care what the government’s morals are on the issue. The FBI’s intentions don’t matter here. Once you put a backdoor on the iPhone, you’ve opened Pandora’s box. There’s no going back.

If the FBI succeeds in getting their way, what’s to stop them from doing the same thing on the Android OS? Windows? Hell, security vulnerabilities were even discovered in Linux Mint. Soon, there will be nowhere to hide your precious porn stash. (Everyone has one. Don’t deny it.)

“But Klax, you handsome, slimy rascal!” I hear you undoubtedly saying. “You’re a brain slug! You don’t care about this kind of thing. Your thoughts have been wide open for all of slugdom to see because of the hive mind!”

I’ll admit that that’s true. We slugs think as one. As one mind, though, we’re not about to let our massive stores of data fall into the hands of some grimy hacker just because someone committed a crime. Our Empire’s operating system is a common one throughout the galaxy. If we decide to create a backdoor on that OS to try and get inside a criminal’s computer, we open ourselves up just as much as we did the criminal. We’d be shooting ourselves in the foot.

People at intelligence agencies use the same operating systems you do, for the most part. Some of the more classified documents are probably stored on obscure systems to help secure them, but you can bet that a lot of the government’s important information is stored on common systems like Windows or OS X. By opening up those operating systems to take a peek inside, you’re providing the tools for illicit thugs to do the same thing to you.

A hack against them would be inevitable with or without the backdoor, though, right? That’s also true. However, if they open up common phones for hackers and intelligence agencies to bypass, they’re also painting a big fat target on their own systems. Hackers are not known to be merciful with people they hate.

It’s also an insane idea morally, too. Yes, I shouldn’t care about that kind of thing. I’ve lived in a hive mind since my inception. Forget me for a second, though. Consider that the FBI wants to create a tool that can worm its way into your own phone and feed the FBI information about you without your consent.

What separates the government from the Empire at that point? Patriotic fervor? I don’t know. The Empire doesn’t want another hive mind competing with it anyway.