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Apple’s iPhone and the FBI: Recalibrating the Right-to-Privacy

On February 29, 2016, a federal judge rejected the FBI’s request to unlock the work-issued iPhone 5c of Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife killed 14 people at a 2015 holiday gathering of county workers. The FBI and DEA cited the All Writs Act, a law passed in 1789 that authorizes federal courts to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”[1] The U.S. Justice Department was demanding that “Apple create software to bypass security features on the phone.”[2] In other words, Apple was to “write code that overrides the device’s auto-delete security function.”[3]In response, Apple’s lawyers argued that the statute does not give the court the right to “conscript and commandeer” the company into defeating its own encryption, thus making its customers’ “most confidential and personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, hostile foreign agents and unwarranted government surveillance.”[4] Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO at the time, said the FBI “was asking his company to create a ’back door’ that could be used to unlock other phones, exposing customer data. Agreeing to the FBI’s demand would set a dangerous precedent that could lead to other calls for Apple’s help to obtain private information, Cook said.”[5] Only weeks later, the FBI abruptly dropped the case because the bureau had found an outside company with technology that could serve as a master key. The FBI could use the “key” to unlock any iPhone. This left customers fearful that their data was now less than private even though Apple had promoted the iPhone product as not having a “back door” In the end, (t)he iPhone fight exposed a rift between the FBI and Silicon Valley technology companies over encryption, and sparked a debate about the right balance between privacy and national security.”[6]I suspect that although a trade-off, or tension between the right of privacy and the national-security interest of the United States existed at the time, electronic privacy would become harder and harder to protect as a result of the FBI’s tactics.  


The full essay is at “Apple’s iPhone and the FBI.”



1.  Jim Stavridis and Dave Weinstein, “Apple vs. FBI Is Not About Privacy vs. Security—It’s About How to Achieve Both,” The World Post, March 8, 2016.

2. The Associated Press, “New FBI Head in San Francisco Was Key Figure in iPhone Hack,” The New York Times, October 5, 2016.

3. Jim Stavridis and Dave Weinstein, “Apple vs. FBI Is Not About Privacy vs. Security—It’s About How to Achieve Both,” The World Post, March 8, 2016.

4. Jim Stavridis and Dave Weinstein, “Apple vs. FBI Is Not About Privacy vs. Security—It’s About How to Achieve Both,” The World Post, March 8, 2016.

5. The Associated Press, “New FBI Head in San Francisco Was Key Figure in iPhone Hack,” The New York Times, October 5, 2016.

6. The Associated Press, “New FBI Head in San Francisco Was Key Figure in iPhone Hack,” The New York Times, October 5, 2016.

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Conservative Comedy Friday – 3/4/16

In the words of John McCain, “Allahu Akbar It’s Friday!” And of course that means it’s time for some conservative comedy. As I do every Friday, I bring you some of the best conservative political and religious comedy, jokes, and…

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Apple’s CEO Manufactures a Human Right

People with disabilities represented 19% of the U.S. population in 2015—exactly 25 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became a federal law.[1]With computer technology being by then integral to daily life, the matter of accessibility came to the fore under the normative principle of equal, or universal, access. With major tech companies getting behind this banner, one question is whether they did so simply to sell more computers and software—better access translating into more customers. I contend that the stronger the normative claim being made, the greater the exploitation of the underlying conflict of interest.


The full essay is at “Apple’s CEO.”


[1]IOD Report Finds Significant Health Disparities for People with Disabilities,” Institute on Disability/UCED, August 25, 2011.

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The Processes of Innovation at Google and Apple: Clash of the Titans

How exactly innovation reaches the surface of human consciousness, and how widespread this process is or could be, elude our finite grasp even if particular managers assume the potion can be applied in our bewindowed linear towers. It is all to easy to willow the question down to a matter of which floor is best suited–the top or the lower ones. We can contrast the approaches at Google and Apple to understand just how little we know about innovation, which is ironic as we are living in an age in which change is the only constant.

The ways in which the folks at Google and Apple approach innovation can together be taken as illustrative of the “archetypical tension in the creative process.” So says John Kao, an innovation consultant to corporations as well as governments. Regarding Google, the company’s innovation method relies “on rapid experimentation and data. The company constantly refines its search, advertising marketplace, e-mail and other services, depending on how people use its online offerings. It takes a bottom-up approach: customers are participants, essentially becoming partners in product design.” To be sure, customers, or “users,” are not “participants” in a company; neither, I suspect, are subordinates.As stakeholders to be appeased, neither customers (or “guests” at Target) nor employees (or “partners” at Starbucks) can be reckoned as “participants.” 

The innovation method at Google is inductive, meaning that major product improvements come at least in part from going over the feedback of individual customers. According to the New York Times, “Google speaks to the power of data-driven decision-making, and of online experimentation and networked communication. The same Internet-era tools enable crowd-sourced collaboration as well as the rapid testing of product ideas — the essence of the lean start-up method so popular in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.” The emphasis here should be placed on a multitude of specific product ideas rather than on the collaboration, for “while networked communications and marketplace experiments add useful information, breakthrough ideas still come from individuals, not committees.” As Paul Saffo, a technology forecaster in Silicon Valley, observes, “There is nothing democratic about innovation. It is always an elite activity, whether by a recognized or unrecognized elite.” Therefore, we can dismiss the presumptuous use of “participant” to describe the inclusive involvement of customers. 

The Times goes on to describe the “Apple model” as “more edited, intuitive and top-down. When asked what market research went into the company’s elegant product designs, Steve Jobs had a standard answer: none. ‘It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.'” It is as if Jobs were an autocrat or aristocrat pointing out that the masses don’t really know what they want. The countess at Downton Abbey would readily agree. The assumption that transformative innovation can only come from an elite fits with Apple’s deductive approach wherein a few true visionaries, such as Jobs himself, at the top present the innovative product ideas (e.g., ipod, ipad, smartphone) to be implemented by subordinates. Clearly, neither employees nor customers are participants in this approach.


King Steve Jobs. Does transformative innovation depend on visionary leadership?  (Image Source: www.fakesteve.net)

The tension between the two approaches comes down to their respective assumptions concerning whether many people or just a few are innately creative in relating imagination back to “the real world” co-exist only in tension; each of the assumptions is antagonistic toward the other. In the political realm, the same tension manifests in terms of whether a democracy is likely to end in mob rule and aristocracy in plutocracy (the rule of wealth). 

As elitist as Job’s statement may be even with respect to employees, he may have had a point that virtually no customer could have anticipated the ipad even five years before it was designed inside Apple. Moreover, it is nearly impossible to project in the 2010s what daily life will be like for people living in 2050. Could anyone in 1914 have anticipated the movies and airplanes that were commonplace by 1950?  People alive just before World War I broke out on August 10, 2014 were no doubt getting used to the electric light, the telephone, and the strange horseless, or auto, “carriage.”  Jump forward a century. Only from retrospect can we say that the ipad had been an inevitable innovation. Perhaps it is simply human nature that the human mind is predominantly oriented backward, rather than to anticipating transformational innovation. Steve Jobs was admittedly an exception; even so, this does not mean that triumphs cannot come from hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs. 


Source:

Steve Lohr, “The Yin and the Yang of Corporate Innovation,” The New York Times, January 28, 2012. 

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13-INCH IPADS?

In a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, Apple has requested to its suppliers that it design a display just under 13 inches. Is Apple trying to expand their product line or is this a reaction to competitor Samsung as they expand with more products?   IGN has the following: “Officials at the company’s […] . . . → Read More: 13-INCH IPADS? . . . → Read More: 13-INCH IPADS?

The Real Reason Politicians Want a Bigger Bite of Apple

Earlier this month, I explained four reasons why the Apple “tax avoidance” issue is empty political demagoguery. And Rand Paul gave some great remarks at a Senate hearing, excoriating some of his colleagues for trying to pillage the company. But this Robert Ariail cartoon may be the best summary of the issue. What makes this […] . . . → Read More: The Real Reason Politicians Want a Bigger Bite of Apple . . . → Read More: The Real Reason Politicians Want a Bigger Bite of Apple

Rand Paul Debunks the Shameful Demagoguery against Apple

Senator Rand Paul is perhaps even better than I thought he would be. He already is playing a very substantive role on policy, ranging from his actions of big-picture issues, such as his proposed budget that would significantly shrink the burden of government spending, to his willingness to take on lower-profile but important issues such as […] . . . → Read More: Rand Paul Debunks the Shameful Demagoguery against Apple . . . → Read More: Rand Paul Debunks the Shameful Demagoguery against Apple

Scottish Slang! :)

So I posted the Apple Scotland video earlier. Here is something to help you understand at least a part of what the hell he was saying. […] . . . → Read More: Scottish Slang! 🙂 . . . → Read More: Scottish Slang! 🙂