With all of the drama surrounding the dispute between the FBI and Apple, and Apple’s heroic and customer-centric stance to not create any back door into its products, a number of other questions have occurred to me that folks don’t seem to be asking—or at least that aren’t being addressed broadly. Let’s take a look at some of them this week given the news that the Senate is working to put Tim Cook in Jail. I’m pretty sure we don’t have to worry about Cook being a terrorist. (This does suggest that Apple may want to increase its lobby funding).
Why Wasn’t This iPhone Monitored?
Generally, people believe that the phones their employer gives them are monitored. That is likely why the terrorists in question had personal phones which were destroyed. Monitoring software is designed to circumvent phone security so the firms, or in this case government departments, that own the phones can make sure they aren’t misused or used for some illegal activity. It is not atypical for a security audit to want to be able to assure that company/government assets are being used properly and we know that, in the past, government assets like this have been used for thing like viewing porn for instance.
In addition you would think, given the possibility of inside attack that any government service employee would have had a background check and that alone should have triggered monitoring. Finally the NSA has spent billions setting up monitoring on virtually everyone so why isn’t that used in this instance? Why do they need Apple? Maybe they should just phone the NSA? Wasn’t the 9/11 problem that these agencies didn’t talk to each other? Rather than pounding on Apple, maybe fixing that would make more sense.
Why Are They Making This So Public?
The advantage to something like a back door only works if no one knows about it. If they are successful in getting Apple to create a back door, then everyone who isn’t living under a rock will know that iPhones can’t be trusted, meaning the very tool they want created will become worthless. Even for this one phone, anyone that is connected to the attack can see the investigation getting closer and closer to them and likely took off some time ago. So even if there is information on this phone it’s not likely to yield anything worthwhile.
This all seems designed more to hurt Apple than to help law enforcement and Apple products are used by a huge cross section of American citizens including the First Family. So why is the FBI so hell bent on hurting Apple and its customers? What is the real goal here?
Apple and Google have been fighting for some time and we know Google is now deeply connected to the Obama administration. Could this be Google’s attempt to critically hurt Apple using its contacts in the Obama administration? If so are Trump and Cruz, who have come out in support of this FBI attack, then Obama/Google Patsies?
Whatever is going on here is not what we think.
How Is A Government Office Justifying iPhones?
The terrorist was a government employee. This was a government phone, and iPhones are considered luxury phones, and the government is supposed to operate frugally. Why then did this terrorist government employee get an iPhone in the first place? This is like seeing an authorization for a luxury car for a government field employee. I can certainly see if this phone was purchased by the employee and then the phone service paid by the government but this phone was bought by the government during a time when revenues are down and government offices are supposed to have deployed austerity measures, so how did they authorize a luxury phone for a low level government employee? This kind of suggests that—rather than being short on cash—at least one government office isn’t executing the required austerity measures. Maybe it is time to cut taxes and put employees on a cheaper phone.
Wrapping Up: Conspiracy Theories
This kind of leads to a whole bunch of conspiracy theories but and I’ve only touched on a few. One thing that continues to bother me is that these folks destroyed their personal phones making it likely there is nothing on the iPhone that wasn’t destroyed that could be used. They clearly knew they were going to be captured or killed. This seems like an awful lot of trouble to gain access to a phone that likely doesn’t have anything worth accessing.
I also wonder if all of those phones out there owned by the government are now on a short list of phones to get monitoring software because it would be really embarrassing if this all happened again in a few months. Rather than attacking Apple and trying to put Tim Cook in jail, maybe working to make sure another attack doesn’t happen would be the more prudent course of action.
(By the way if you haven’t read the Wikipedia coverage on this, it makes you wonder why these folks were allowed to continue to work in a sensitive area and weren’t on some kind of watch list). Makes you wonder if this isn’t all about getting us to focus on Apple and not wonder, given the massive amount of spying on us they are doing, why the FBI couldn’t prevent the attack in the first place.)