So Donald Trump has come under fire recently for telling a story about General Pershing’s execution of a group of Muslims via firing squad. The story is fabricated, of course. When I first heard about it, I wondered why, even if it were true, it would be brought up here and now. Does Trump really believe that kind of thing would “Make America great again”? Really?

I suppose ISIS thought the video-taped beheadings of Americans would frighten us into capitulation. On the contrary, however, afterward I found great entertainment value in released airstrike videos, especially one particular one of a strike on a moving ISIS pickup truck with a gunner riding in the back who must have flown a good 30 feet when the vehicle was hit.

And I wonder how dangerous it might be for Americans abroad for Trump to be telling such a tale that is sure to be broadcast near and far. It’s not like ISIS followers need more excuses. Trump needs to shut the pie hole if he can’t control what comes out of it.

Apple, Inc. is fighting a subpoena for the encryption keys for the phone of the ISIS perp of the San Bernardino shooting. I understand there is a warrant for the search, and Apple is declining to provide the key.

For sure it is a sticky legal situation because the government has a warrant. But that warrant doesn’t include the authority to force Apple to cooperate. It also involves a broader question about whether government should have access to encryption keys and under what conditions.

My husband and I disagree on this issue. My inclination is that if the government has a warrant, Apple should cooperate. My husband says Apple shouldn’t cooperate because of the government’s track record of wanton, warrantless shuffling through personal information, and cooperation is a step too far toward the slippery slope. But I don’t see a lot of difference between phones and computers or phones and filing cabinets which can and have been rifled through on the basis of a warrant for decades.

The nuance here is that if the government has a warrant, it can search an encrypted phone after it cracks the encryption itself. Apple doesn’t need to be involved. Supposing that Apple wins and isn’t forced to provide the key, the government will crack the phone itself and then it will know how to do it. There is nothing to be gained on the personal privacy front by resisting; it is simply a matter of time. The only thing gained by Apple is reputation for privacy protection, and perhaps some extra time to change the algorithm or the method of changing the algorithm so that it has no knowledge of which customer has which key (which it may have already done and therefore even a desire to cooperate would be moot).

[Update] Apple is being subpoenaed for the master key. Not the key to unlock that particular phone, but THE key that can unlock ANY phone. And with that new information, I have changed my mind. Apple should not give up the master key.

 

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