February 23, 2016

449 words 3 mins read

Apple vs FBI = Ends vs Means

In the technology world, the “Apple vs FBI” situation is being hotly debated. Tim Cook put out a memo (and then an FAQ), Google’s all in on supporting Apple, as is Mark Zuckerberg, and even a touch of Microsoft. If Apple’s refusal to help the FBI is so widely supported by the tech community, why does half of America think the opposite? The answer is simple: Most people don’t care enough about technology to get that deep into the weeds. Rather than trying to educate people on a complicated subject, here’s an easier way to look at Apple v FBI:

Do the ends justify the means?

Take a step back from the San Bernadino situation. For just a moment let’s pretend that this case doesn’t involve the word “terrorist”. It’s just some bad people who did some bad things. It doesn’t matter what they did, they did something “bad”. Let’s say, for argument, that the San Bernadino case is actually about a guy who was grafittiing walls. Do you still think that the FBI should force Apple to unlock the graffiti artist’s iPhone? Keeping in mind that the second the FBI gets this technology the rest of the world will get it as well? The second the FBI gets this, your own Phone is now fair game for anyone who can get their hands on it?

Of course you don’t think that’s a good idea. Why would we let such a powerful genie out of the bottle for something so trivial. Ah, but you argue that this is “terrorism” so it’s totally different. The argument of “but terrorism” is just another way of saying “The ends justify the means”. Anything we do in the name of “fighting terrorism” is okay.

  • Breaking iPhone Encryption? To fight terrorism!
  • Mass spying and surveillance? To fight terrorism! (See 9/11 & The PATRIOT Act)
  • “Indefinite detention” in Gitmo? To fight terrorism!
  • Random drone strikes against possibly innocent civilians? To fight terrorism!
  • Japanese internment camps? To fight terrorism!

In everyone of the above cases, someone said “The ends justify the means”. You know who else believed entirely in that same concept? The Nazis. The ends (an Aryan race) justified the means (genocide of the Jewish people). Yes, I just went there. Forcing the iPhone unlock is no different than a Nazi genocide.

Do I support terrorism? Hell no. Do I want the bad guys captured? Hell yes.

But if I don’t have any privacy or civil liberties left afterwards, why bother? We live in America, “The land of the free”. But it won’t be that way for long if we let “Because terrorism” be a valid reason for doing anything and everything the government wants.