The offer to assist the F.B.I is less about a desire to help the government and more about ensuring that a dangerous precedent isn’t set.
A lesser known candidate for President of the United States is attempting to insert himself into the one of most talked about stories of the week: Apple v.s the F.B.I, a bout that highlights the challenge of gathering intelligence to fight terrorism while also respecting the privacy and freedoms of citizens.
Mr. John McAfee, a member of the Libertarian Party who announced his bid for the presidency in late December of 2015, today in an Op-Ed that ran on BusinessInsider.com offered to hack into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, thus relieving Apple of having to create software that allows a passcode to be entered repeatedly without fear of triggering the device’s auto-erase function, which is what a California judge, at the behest of the F.B.I, has ordered the technology company to do.
Apple, distrustful of the FBI’s pledge that the software would be used once and only on Mr. Syed Farook’s iPhone, appealed the judge’s order and called the proposed hack “an overreach by the U.S. Government.” The Justice Department called the decision by Apple “unfortunate,” though many people and entities, including Twitter, Facebook and Mr. Mark Cuban of the show Shark Tank, have sided with Apple. In fact, it appears, despite terrorism being of great concern to Americans, there’s more public support for the technology giant than for the U.S. Government, which was criticized by Mr. McAfee for not having the best hackers working for them.
Using primarily social engineering, Mr. McAfee said he, if given three weeks by the F.B.I, could break into the phone of the man, who, along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people. Investigators with the bureau, which received permission to retrieve data from the phone, aim to learn as much as they can about the husband and wife who murdered innocent civilians at a holiday party and later both died in a police chase.
“It’s unfortunate that Apple continues to refuse to assist in the department in obtaining access to the phone of one the terrorists involved in a major terror attack on U.S. soil,” read a statement from the Justice Department.
Mr. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, who penned an open letter on the judge’s ruling, said in part:
“The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”
Mr. McAffe doesn’t appear to believe the government either, calling their logic of using the backdoor only once “laughable and bizarre.” The offer to assist the F.B.I is, according to Mr. McAffe’s tone, less about his desire to help the government and more about ensuring that a potentially dangerous precedent isn’t set.
“To place a back door in its product,” he wrote, “will be the beginning of the end of America.”
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