Cybersecurity has very little to do with technology and everything to do with judgment and ethics. The current legal battle between Apple and the FBI over privacy protections for private users, and whether manufacturers like Apple, should remain hands off or provide a means for law enforcement to circumvent those protections under the auspices of conducting investigations, is a perfect example. The case is not so much about encryption or back doors as it is about how we want our society to function in our modern times and in the future. It’s not a topic we should take lightly or view passively.
I have very strong opinions on the topic, but I am not going to voice them here, nor am I going to re-hash the technical or constitutional commentaries being made. There are more than enough of those you can, and should, read on your own to form your own opinions. I’m writing this because I believe we all have a responsibility to become informed and become involved, regardless of position. Vigorous, informed debate by the majority of the people to reach consensus doesn’t just make a democracy stronger, it’s the essence of democracy.
What I would ask you to keep in mind as you research the case, is that this debate is taking place within a very different paradigm than even ten years ago. I often use the analogy of securing a home as a way to illustrate security concepts, and that helps make my point, but that analogy is a blunt instrument in respect to deciding civil and legal policy. We are in a different time, and we have to understand that the consequences of our decisions today will have a huge impact on the tone of our society for decades or longer. We must rationally reflect on the current state of affairs, seek an unbiased understanding, and then debate the merits of our positions based upon our ideals.
Is it time to overhaul the US Constitution? Are security and privacy mutually exclusive concepts? To what lengths should citizens be permitted to go to protect their privacy and what responsibility does the government have to protect its citizenry from attackers – and itself? These are not rhetorical questions, but are a sample the questions we must answer now and for ourselves, or we will have missed a precious opportunity.