Short version: Court orders Apple to develop new software for the fedgov that will compromise every Apple customer’s security. Fedgov lies and says it wants only to crack one terrorist’s phone. Cook responds like a real privacy advocate. This response is neither altruism nor political activism. It is — finally! — a tech company recognizing who actually pays its bills. Among other things.
Because of my crazy week, I’ll let Commentariat member S. take it from there.
I know many in the liberty movement despise the very concept of corporations. I agree that the partnership of government and corporations is evil and dangerous.
But this case illustrates another possibility. Apple may ultimately cave, but the laws of economics are not negotiable. Apple must serve consumers or Apple will die.
Where this gets really interesting is that the same high and mighty courts that have decreed that corporations are persons now confront a person who defies them. Unlike us peons, Apple can’t be caged, waterboarded, thrown in the hole, raped, beaten, or shot. Maybe some Apple executives, eventually, but even then the government faces a far more formidable opponent than their typical prey.
Apple’s market cap is half a trillion dollars. There are roughly 5 billion shares. They have resources and capabilities that the FBI wants but can’t muster.
I’ll submit that Apple is acting in the interests of privacy and liberty. Their motivations are economic, but the list of liberty supporters with such power and resources is rather short these days. I welcome Apple’s actions and am glad that I voted with my wallet to buy a fully encrypted iPhone.
S. then links to lawyer Scott Greenfield, who makes a few more good points:
Not only does the court order Apple to make the sun rise in the west, but it tells it how the sun should rise, and then, if the sunrise protocol fails to meet the government’s requirements, allows Apple to politely seek the government’s acquiescence.
But who made Apple an adjunct to law enforcement? Apple didn’t commit any crime. Apple didn’t shoot anyone. What does Apple have to do with any crime in the first place? Yet, the subtext of the order is that Apple, the maker of the encrypted phone, can be made a slave to the government’s demands, and that the Magistrate Judge has the authority to order a business, unrelated to the commission of any crime, to spend its time and money, expend its devs’ efforts, to comply with its order, upon pain of contempt. Why?
The question should not be whether it’s “unreasonably burdensome” for Apple to comply with the order, but whether Apple should have to lift a finger at all. If Apple chooses not to voluntarily become a division of law enforcement, and has done nothing criminal, then what authority does a court have to make it a slave to the government’s demands?”