“This is a case,” one of your fellow LFT readers, named “Guff,” wrote in response to yesterday’s episode, “where Apple absolutely can't and shouldn't be forced to crack their iPhone software.
[If you missed yesterday’s episode, it’s in your inbox titled, “Apple Gives Big Brother a Black Eye.”]
“This may sound odd,” our anonymous reader went on, “coming from someone who worked their entire career as a law enforcement officer and for the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) and the White House, but there are reasons for my position.”
We’ll share the reasons this reader gave in a moment.
First, let’s give the floor to one more speaker from Anarchapulco — the event where we spent all last week writing from in Acapulco.
Y aquí viene la gran final.
“Is it not such a strange fate,” Larken Rose began, quoting J.R.R. Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring, “that we should suffer so much fear and doubt for so small a thing?
“So small a thing! And I have seen it only for an instant in the house of Elrond! Could I not have a sight of it again?”
Sauron. The Creator of the One Ring. The Abhorred. Mairon. Gorthaur the Cruel. The Great Eye. The Sorcerer. Thu. Sauron the Great. Sauron the Deceiver. Lord of Gifts. Lord of the Earth.
Lord of the Rings.
Not animated? Click here.
Even in his early days, Sauron was feared. He was recognized as a being of terrible phantoms and dreadful beasts. He was a shape-shifter, a cunning sorcerer and a devout servant of his dark master.
“However,” Rose goes on, “all of his power depends on the one ring that he forged. It all hinges on that. And to me, that makes a brilliant analogy to the belief in authority.
“So the catch is, you have this big scary dark lord with all of those armies and things, but if you can destroy that thing, the rest of it goes away. We do not have to defeat their armies, we do not need to defeat their fortresses.
“We are up against one tiny lie. We are up against so small a thing.
“However, that so small a thing is a pain in the ass to break. And this also works with the analogy in Lord of the Rings. Because this one ring of power, the good guys get their hands on it. But you can’t just break it, you can’t just melt it, you have to take it back where it came from, and unmake it.
And that, dear LFT reader, is what Rose says needs to be done: “This lie that was implanted into people’s minds through years of authority indoctrination, we have to go back into their minds, where it came from, and unmake it.
“And when it is unmade, all the rest of it falls away.”
THOUGHT EXPERIMENT TIME
Imagine the biggest battlefield of armies imaginable. An endless body of guns, tanks, bombs, drones, trucks, cups and tents. All colors and sizes and shapes, spanning for miles in all directions.
“Imagine,” Rose goes on, “if you could press a button, and all the guns are there, all the bombs are there, all the machines are there, but suddenly, everyone on both sides no longer believes in authority.
“Suddenly,” he says, “they will not abide by the excuse of ‘I’m just following orders.’ Unless they personally feel justified in doing their actions, they don’t do it. What happens? Both sides go, ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing here. I don’t really know who I’m shooting at. I don’t really know why… I don’t feel OK about this. I’m leaving.’
“Now, the hippie version of this is, ‘What if they had a war and nobody came?’ But there’s a lot of truth to that.
“I don’t care about how many guns the government has.
“I care about how many trigger fingers they have. And if you can remove that so small a thing from the minds of the human beings to which those trigger fingers belong, the trigger fingers leave and the guns are not a threat.”
The bright side: the government continues to trudge the path of complete compartmentalized incompetence.
Case in point: The FBI’s inability to crack a freakin’ iPhone. And nobody wants to help the wittle agency out. [#sadface]
“First,” the LFT reader we mentioned earlier, Guff, explains, “my personal experience with FBI information technology over many years is that they are among the least competent agencies in the IC [and] in the area of information technology (IT) overall.
“They have had one major and massively expensive systems design failure after another over the years. They take many years to successfully field systems and software that should have taken far less time to reach its ultimate demise when they failed it.
“That was not only true when I retired in XXXX, but now. Do you really think that CIA couldn't get into an iPhone if they wanted to — or haven't already?
“Oh wait. That's probably a tradecraft secret they classify in ways that the Bureau can't even find out about it. The NSA are no slouches either.
“Part of the FBI's problem is that they COULD get the help they need from more competent agencies… but don't want to ask for it and turn it down when offered.
“Of course, the FBI is already seeking the key to Apple's encryption not only for the San Bernardino phone (which according to the news, some government official locked AFTER THE FACT) but now admit that they want it for other cases as well. The FBI are investigators, right? Let them investigate who locked it and GET THE KEY FROM THEM!
“The main reason I don't like this whole idea is that it opens the door for EVERY OTHER NATION to likewise demand the keys, putting an end to any freedom of speech anywhere, as the governments could then easily monitor anything and shut down any and all comms they dislike.
“Various U.S. police services also want the key as well for their own monitoring — and I disagree with that, too: it's an investigative convenience, but only that, and it's not required for successful prosecutions.”
The BIG problem with this? “It puts ALL freedom of speech at risk,” Guff goes on.
“Lastly, if you use and like Apple Pay (or Android Pay), you know that those apps tell you how you spent every cent of every transaction you spent in them right after you spent it. How long before those records are also available to hackers everywhere?
“Believe me, they can hide any withdrawals THEY would make on your accounts!
“I'd stop using Wallet if the key were released to government.
“Plus, all it takes is a single corrupt politician to expose untold volumes of even classified information through their own illegal behavior or incompetence.”
Thanks for writing in, Guff. Keep the letters coming.
[Ed. note: So, the fight for privacy continues. Government incompetence and a lust for power on one side, and an unquenchable desire to be left the hell alone on the other. The more the government cracks down, though, the less legitimacy this idea of “blind authority” has. And the more readily the masses will open up to simple and elegant solutions to government overreach into their lives. Such as, for example, taking their privacy into their own hands and encrypting their information privately. As I write this, for example, I’m using TunnelBear, a private VPN, to protect my information. (We mentioned Tunnelbear and a couple other solutions in yesterday’s episode.) That’s just the first step. Soon, I’m going to reveal to you ALL of the best and simplest ways to build a digital fortress around your personal information. And even show you how to access the DarkNet in less than five minutes. Stay tuned for that next week.]
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today
P.S. Have something to say? Say it! Chris@lfb.org