It’s still unraveling, but the story of facebook and data sharing has captured the attention of its users and Wall Street alike. It seems that personal data was shared in many ways which violated facebook’s own policies and privacy laws in some states and nations.
Step back for a minute, however, and we can all see how much worse the problem is. From the Clinton hacked email scandal through this to even more revelations to come, it is very clear that every single thing online has to be treated as if it is public knowledge. There is no privacy.
As iPhones become slimmer, the box that contains the electronics that make it work is tighter every day. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the legal box on Apple and other makers of technology is getting a lot tighter, too.
The recent court order to unlock the iPhone is straight out of a TV crime drama. The suspects in the San Bernadino shooting are dead, and the only possible way we can understand their motivation is to gain access to every piece of otherwise private information on them we can. That includes their iPhone, a device encrypted in a way that no one, even the maker, can unlock. But Apple has never tried to create a “backdoor” for their own reasons, and has outlined exactly why they don’t want such a program to even exist.
But there’s much more to this than a TV show. This is real life, and security concerns have come right up against privacy in a complicated and dramatic way.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
– The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution
The documents were carefully selected for their ability to illustrate the problem without being sensational or personal. The exit strategy led to Hong Kong, with a long tradition of free speech but under the control of the US’ one serious non-friend, China. The leak was given to the Guardian, a non-US publication with a history of defending speech and privacy. All of this is the work of a methodical mind turning himself over completely to what he believes is simply the right thing to do.
Edward Snowden is a hero, and a very smart one at that. A petition has already started for a Presidential pardon, and I hope you will sign it.