Nation divided over Apple decision

Apple’s decision to refuse the FBI order requiring the company to unlock a phone used by Syed Farook, one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino shooting, has divided the nation into two camps. Those who support the company believe that the FBI order jeopardizes individual privacy. Others argue that Apple’s challenge threatens national security.

In order to unlock Syed Farook’s iPhone, Apple would have to design a new software that would provide a backdoor through the phone’s security features. That software does not yet exist, and Apple argues it should stay that way.

“The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices,” states Tim Cook’s response posted on the Apple website.

The non-profit advocacy group Fight for the Future organized demonstrations across the nation following the Apple decision in order to show solidarity with the company. Evan Greer, the organization’s campaign director, spoke about the importance of encryption in protecting public facilities like hospitals and airports, as well as in assuring the safety of individuals.

“For myself as a member of the LGBT community, I know there are a lot of people that have heightened needs for security. A breach is not just inconvenient or embarrassing, but can put people in threat of physical violence,” Greer said.

Henry Nickel, a San Bernardino city councilman, has the opposing opinion that Apple’s decision is an obstruction of justice. He likens Apple’s refusal to access the contents of Farook’s phone to a landlord’s refusal to unlock a suspect’s door in the face of a search warrant.

“I do not feel that digital data is in any way subject to additional protection from search or seizure than any other aspects of our lives,” Nickel said. “Apple is simply wrong if it believes digital information is somehow more sacred than any other type of information.”

San Bernardino Mayor R. Carey Davis felt similarly. “The attacks on December 2nd was the deadliest terrorist attack in the US since 9/11, and law enforcement officials continue to follow up on leads related to the case… It is my hope that Apple cooperates given the circumstances of this investigation,” he said.

Article via: The Washington Post, 19 February, 2016

Photo: Laughing Squid iPhone Webclip Icon by Scott Beale [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


China to pass new decryption law

Tech companies await the final version of a new Chinese law that targets terrorism by providing the government more powers to use decryption. According to experts, the current wording of the law is vague, and thus the actual implications of the legislation are unclear.

Owen D. Nee, a Greenberg Traurig attorney and lecturer at Columbia and NYU law schools, said that the law “creates a duty” but doesn’t specify how it will be “exercised.” He added, “When China writes a law like this, vagueness is an intended consequence.”

Nee said that the law could possibly require Internet service providers to aid the government in decryption. Pam Dixon, the executive director of the World Privacy Forum, said that it’s possible tech companies will pull out of China in order to protect user data, or the law could have virtually no effect on the tech industry in the country.

The law “gives even broader rights [to the government] which is troubling,” Dixon said. “There’s already a lot of censorship.”

Currently, telecommunication companies and Internet service providers are likely providing opinions on drafts as tech companies lobby to Chinese authorities. A report from the Xinhua news agency stated that Li Shouwei of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee legislative affairs commission “admitted that a number of countries and enterprises had voice concerns about certain provisions of the law” at a recent press conference.

Chinese officials responded to criticisms by exposing the hypocrisy of the United States in regards to anti-terrorism initiatives. A commentary published by Xinhua said, “In short, the U.S. criticism against China’s anti-terrorism legislation is but yet another case of Washington’s application of double standards in dealing with issues of terrorism.”

Article via: LegalTech News, 29 December 2015

Photo: Chinese Warships Visit Portsmouth by Defence Images

[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Summit to combat terrorists using social media

Federal administration officials collaborated with senior executives from several large tech firms at last week’s summit on terrorist communication via social media. General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin represented the Department of Justice at the conference. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, and other large Silicon Valley companies attended. The meeting was part of President Obama’s overall mission as announced last week to combat violent extremism both internationally and domestically.

“Today’s developments reflect President Obama’s commitment to take every possible action to confront and interdict terrorist activities wherever they occur, including online,” said National Security Council representative Ned Price.

Multiple tech firms discussed their goals to prevent communication between terrorists on their social media outlets. “We explained our policies and how we enforce them—Facebook does not tolerate terrorists or terror propaganda and we work aggressively to remove it as soon as we become aware of it,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

The summit came after the Department of Homeland Security’s and the Department of Justice’s announcement of the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force, an amalgamation of different agencies given the task of “discourage[ing] violent extremism and undercut[ting] terrorist narratives” with an additional goal to “build relationships and promote trust” with certain communities across the country, said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

Article via TechNewsWorld, 13 January 2016

Photo: President Obama Talks to the Crew of Atlantis (P052009PS-0698) by NASA HQ PHOTO. [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]