Cynthia Dill, a Maine state senator, opined in the opined in the Portland Press Herald that:
“Instead of – or in addition to – ordering Apple to build a technological back door to its phones, why aren’t we ordering weapons makers to put technology in their products that can be used by law enforcement to protect us from gun violence?“
Let me see if I can shorten that sentence for State Senator Dill:
If we can get our hands on the technology to violate Apple users’ 4th Amendment rights, why don’t we go all the way and develop the technology to strip people of their 2nd Amendment rights as well?
Wait, I can do better:
If we can put our left boot on your throats, we can put our right boot on your throats too.
I think that just about sums it up. I fall squarely in the camp the believes that Apple should, in no uncertain terms, deny the FBI’s request to build in a law enforcement backdoor to the Apple encryption. In Katz v. United States (1967), the Supreme Court extended 4th Amendment protections to all areas that a person had a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” The opinion in Katz established a “two tier” test for what constitutes a reasonable vs. unreasonable search.
- Does a person have a subjective expectation of privacy at the time of the search?
- Is that subjective expectation reasonable – i.e., would society as a whole recognize that moment as being private?
The Katz example is a public phone vs. a phone booth. If you are on a public phone and can be over heard, you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. If you are in a phone booth that you can shut to door to, you do have a reasonable expectation of privacy since you took steps to avoid being overhead. Since companies, like Apple, advertise the security of their phones and data encryption systems as features, and people and companies often select which phones and carriers to use because of their data encryption and security features, it would be quite reasonable to assume that there is an expectation of privacy in a locked, encrypted phone.
This is not about hacking the San Bernardio shooter’s phone. This is about giving the Federal Government the ability to hack everybody’s phone, and the Federal Government tells us to “trust them,” that they won’t abuse that ability. Apple, in the past, has helped law enforcement hack individual computers/phones/etc. A backdoor into the system for law enforcement is a means of lowering the bar of difficulty for law enforcement to access data. Perhaps lowering the bar enough that the Fed could claim that with this technology, that all encrypted data is “in plain view.” Call me a paranoid cynic, but somehow I get the impression that if the Fed had the ability to backdoor their way through Apple’s encryption, by next week they’d have a Bluetooth wand that they could wave over your phone and download all of info off of it with one swipe. It’s not like the NSA Spent six years listening to people’s calls or the IRS was used to harass groups based on their political leanings or anything like that.
So, an attempt by the government to obtain technology to enhance their ability the violate the Constitution, has given State Senator Dill justification for wanting MORE technology capable of violating the Constitution.
Of course, she retreats to her corner of “it’s for the children:”
“Why is it a 6-year-old child can pick up an iPhone and be prevented from accessing its contents because of a passcode, but that same child can pick up a gun and shoot his 3-year-old brother in the face and kill him by accident?”
Her justification is a bald faced lie. She wants the ability to render people’s legally obtained guns inoperable at a distance. Rendering them inoperable is effectively no different can confiscation. A gun that doesn’t work is as useless as no gun at all. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina established that mass gun confiscation was a 2nd Amendment violation. So a remote deactivation of guns, whether it happens to one person or many would likewise be the same violation.
The two phrases I don’t see are “warrant” or “court order” suggesting that she feels the government should have the power to deactivate anybody’s guns at any time.
“Hey, there is a riot going on down town, let’s just shut off all the civilian guns in the city… wait, how about the county… better yet, the whole state. Who cares if some people are defending their businesses, homes, and lives with their guns, it’s for the children.”
The demand for smart guns that the government could remotely disable is a constitutional double whammy.
If When your gun is deactivated without a warrant or court order, your 4th Amendment rights were violated, and because it was your gun that was rendered useless, it was your 2nd Amendment rights that were violated. But considering just how much alacrity she has for violating one Amendment, i’m sure violating another simultaneously is just frosting on the cake.
I mean if you are going to advocate for totalitarian behavior, go big or go home, right?
All this OpEd proves to me is that 1) there is no limit to the restrictions some people want to place on our rights, and 2) I will never own a smart gun as long as I live.