Apple’s stance on encryption violates a modern relativity theory of freedom by which the government can work to prevent present dangers and stave off the future systemic fallacies of untenable absolutism of freedom.
Who is the arbiter?
With the gruesome scenes of the attacks in Paris and Lebanon imprinted on us and new threats unleashed on other continents, the debate about “impenetrable” encryption rears up again, as the attackers appear to have planned their attacks and communicated their synchronicity with remarkable precision while escaping the wrath of police oversight.
Before these attacks, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, staunchly defended and boasted publicly about his stance on the stronghold of Apple’s encryption, making it impossible even for Apple to snoop on the communications between its many iPhone, iPad, and Mac computer customers. He went so far as to defend his stance with President Barack Obama in person, who appeared to have tacitly submitted to the uncompromising position of now the largest technology company in the world.
In light of these attacks, the argument about whether to enable a back door to encryption and allow law enforcement to peek in when warranted might serve as a convenient laymen’s justification to force Apple to no longer be given “carte blanche” and stop it from deploying the unquestionable oligarchic “rule-of-law” of Apple’s communication systems to supplant the democratic rule-of-law of sovereign states where Apple’s technology is deployed. An excellent argument can also be made why technology systems must obey to the same sovereign rules other communication mechanisms are subjected to, or else why should those other mechanisms be submitted to those rules.
Anticipating the crescendo of these problems, I have written about since 2009 and just this year started a new consulting practice helping technology companies navigate those waters more effectively and to effectuate a streamlining of the acceptance and use of technology worldwide. And to help technology companies pre-empt the impending dawn of resistance.
The more significant issue here is not the state of encryption but the more important topic of our state of freedom. A state of freedom not just affecting our freedom of speech but affecting the freedom of our economic principles and access to equal opportunity. This a topic not always taken seriously by technology systems driven by mindless and self-serving advertising schemes to make it through another quarter with flying colors. The reality is most technology companies deploy grave violations of freedom the unknowing public perceives as truth.
You see, technology systems deploy economics of freedoms programmed into the algorithms of code. These are systems not unlike the many analog systems we have built, just with rules implemented as code instead of printed regulations as the paradoxical rules of freedom to ensure continued trust in those systems. The problem is programmers who create code are unaware of the diverse democracies of the world or even their own and implicitly set only those rules rising to their purview.
And herein lies the rub of Apple’s flawed stance of economic absolutism. Freedom, as I explained in an article called The Paradox of Freedom, cannot be achieved when the need for personal freedom is not balanced with the need for collective freedom. The freedom of freedom (real freedom) is deployed as relativity, comprising different versions of collective freedom (different per country and state) with guardrails defining the amplitude of individual freedom to participants.
For technology systems to support real freedom, Apple and other technology purveyors must be forced to provide for the protection of collective freedom to obey the sovereignty of the domicile to which its technology is deployed. There are many ingenious ways to do so.
We cannot allow technology companies to deploy totalitarian regimes of freedom to play hooky with the unique democracies it aims to penetrate. Or otherwise, the oligarchic powers of the Tim Cook’s of the world will supplant the powers of the officials guided by a continual process of checks and balances.
Of course, I realize full well how imperfect our governance is, yet from experience; I also know full well how our government is still a better system to protect our collective interests than the process and reasons by which CEOs have proven to drive the narrow and selfish interests of corporatism.
So Barack Obama, start writing new legislation to regulate technology, so says an altruistic technologist.