Saturday 20 February 2016

#142 Ultimate privacy: a fruitless pursuit? 

My sister and I were never allowed to have locks on our bedroom doors when we were growing up. That's not the least of the reasons why I lack the knowledge and experience to comment on the encryption row between Apple and the US government but it's one of them. Screw it though, I'm going to write a bit about privacy.

As it happens, I was quite a shy teenager and spent most of my time either watching TV or playing video games. I did occasionally have a girl over though. If I had been allowed to have a lock, I probably would have made use of it. When you're fifteen and trying to grab a girl's boob, that whole moment can be ruined when your dad walks in with a plate of cut-up apples and some peanut butter on crackers.

Our bathroom door, of course, had a lock on it. There are parts of the human anatomy that most people consider private. When it comes to terrorism though, even that kind of privacy flies out of the window. As the map scene from the movie Three Kings shows us, when the US military want something badly enough, they'll literally go into your ass to get it. Maybe Apple didn't see that coming. I'd be more inclined to say though, that the government didn't see Apple coming. They should have.

Companies will be companies. They'll do what they legally can to satisfy what they think the customers want. This type of hyper-security, where even Apple can't get into its customers phones might seem strange but people take time to trust technology. It's only quite recently that we digitised our shopping, our banking and our social dialogue. We're still getting used to it and while we do, there's bound to be some overreactions and under-reactions to cyber threats.

Compared to the old days though, your cash, your photos and your identity are all still relatively safe. The main reason for this isn't because they're well encrypted or in a safe, or guarded by a big dog. It's because the vast majority of people are decent and wouldn't dream of stealing from you. The exceptions are chocolate, most dairy products and the occasional item of clothing. What that suggests to me is that in the long-term, having a little black box that not even the government can find its way into, probably won't be necessary. It'll be an interesting story to follow though.

1 comment

Jonathan Bandit Copping said...

Nice bit about me giving you apple chips! Memories!!!