The Internet Of Things Can Be Risky

applevsfbiIt’s a slippery slope, for sure.  Once a novelty, internet connected devices are becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives.  The problem, however, is security.  The latest court order from the FBI ordering Apple to hack into the iPhone belonging to the terrorist responsible for the San Bernadino shootings in 2015 has many more repercussions than you might imagine.  It’s the tip of a security nightmare iceberg.  The fact is, that once Apple caves to this demand it sets a precedent of the government being able to tap into any device that can monitor you and your activities such as smartphones, health monitors, cameras, even your fridge and toaster.

Many people think that this is an isolated case.  If it was, then I’d be all for the FBI being able to crack that single iPhone.  However unfortunately the technology involved in the case just doesn’t work that way.  Once Apple creates a backdoor for that one iPhone it will eventually make its way into the world at large.  It’s just inevitable.  Then the technology would be out there to break into all encrypted iPhones.

Also, the court order sets a precedent for the government to be able to force tech manufacturers to create backdoors so that the government can easily access all the data it likes.  No longer will we be able to have a private conversation.  Your internet browsing habits will be there for the government to see (in fact they probably are already unless you’re using methods such as Tor).

It’s not a question of whether or not we want the information in the iPhone.  I’m sure most people do.  However it’s the fact that we need to protect the principle of privacy in our nation.  Are a few scant secrets on that one phone worth it?  The data on it may be too old now to be of much use anyway.

A recent New York Times article looks at the story with a very good lens.  It also points out the fact that the FBI and the government in general has a history of using old court rulings about old technology and applying them to new technology.  Old wiretapping rulings and laws were applied as the basis for modern day internet surveillance rules.  It’s the lack of consideration of the implications of rulings that will have far-reaching effects with new technologies that are increasingly creeping into our homes with or without our consent.

One could make a case for the fact that you can simply live “off the grid” and avoid technologies such as smartphones and internet connected devices.  But this is just not practical.  Smartphones, once a luxury, are now a part of our everyday lives.  A few outliers could potentially avoid all things internet, but that’s going to be a tough row to hoe if you want to participate in society as a whole.  Unless your group of friends is all doing the same thing you’ll have a tough time being involved in much of the day to day dealings of 99% of the population.

It’s an interesting question and one that deserves some thought.  What do you think about the recent FBI vs Apple case?

About the Author

Roger Feinstein has grown up with computers his entire life and strives to help others understand what goes on behind the scenes in their PCs. He's been writing tech articles for websites for over 5 years.

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