Concrete example of civil liberties erosion

Local and Federal authorities are asking for backdoor encryption access for phones, again.  This is bad for everyone, not just the terrorists.  The problem here is a misunderstanding about how computer security works by the general public and an over reach by the government.

Even when you are designing a system that does not have a backdoor, it is not unusual to find a bug that results in the ability to break security.  By examining the code and/or trying different things to exploit the software things are found all of the time.  This is one of the big reasons why your software is updated so frequently; bugs are found and fixed.

Apple has done the right thing for all of us by enabling security by default and making it so they cannot get into your device.  Just think back to the iCloud problem that resulted in the theft of so many celebrity nudes.  This was with no backdoors in place and things got out.  Some of us keep lots of information on our phones that we wouldn’t want others to have; passwords, pictures, financial information, private thoughts, etc.

Now think about a situation where there is a backdoor, purposely put in.  If exploits are regularly found with no backdoor there, think about a world where there is one.  Now there is a target to get in or around.  If there is a defined way to circumvent security it will be found.  This is bad for all of us.  The “if you have nothing to hide, its not a problem” excuse doesn’t work because its not law enforcement getting in, its the bad guys.

This doesn’t even address the problems with law enforcement having this ability.  I am a law abiding citizen.  I do my best to avoid breaking laws because I believe that in a civil society there is a social contract to play by the rules.  This doesn’t mean that I want everyone looking at every detail of my life.  By having the expectation that anyone could look at anything at any time, it has the effect of influencing what I do, illegal or not, and stifles free thought or expression of ideas.  All of us have things that we wouldn’t want to have public even if they are completely legal and ethical.

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. – Benjamin Franklin

We are regularly giving up our freedoms.  Whether its giving the ability for anything we do online to be examined at anytime, often without our knowledge, or something like stop and frisk, where there is no crime except walking down the street, in the hope of finding a criminal.  We have let fear dictate what we think is ok, and its not.  The people that fought to give us a free country would be appalled at what we’ve freely given up.

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