Apple vs The FBI: Encryption and the Question of a Right to Privacy

If anyone is confused/not that interested in the Apple v. FBI debate over what sort of tools law enforcement should have to bypass strong encryption, here's a brief breakdown of how it would probably go down:

What the FBI wants isn't a way to break iOS encryption per se. They want to be able to flash the iPhone with a software update that will disable the security features and allow them to use software to test all 10,000 passcode options nearly instantly. As it stands currently, you only get so many tries to brute force a password before iOS locks you out completely.

With this method they are proposing, the same risks you'd get with an encryption backdoor apply, though. Once this tool exists, every law enforcement entity will demand access to it through a warrant. A court precedent down the road will likely force Apple to comply. Apple will then have to comply in any country they wish to do business. Eventually some criminal working in law enforcement for this or any other country would have the opportunity sell the tool on the black market for a huge sum.

This is a slippery slope, hypothetical argument against creating such a tool, but that's the end game risk you have to consider.

Now, the question is: is the risk worth the benefit? Do we have a right to absolute security of our information even if that means that criminals also have access to this security?

Sam Harris proposed an interesting analogy on the topic. Imagine you could construct a room in your home that was completely impregnable to anyone other than you. No matter what crime you committed in that room, rape, murder, the worst things you could think of, no one would be able to access the evidence without your permission, including after your death. Never in the history of the world has something like this existed. What argument can we make for having the right to possess this sort of autonomy from the laws that govern our society?

Something to think about.

Credit: Reddit user jmcgit for the nuts and bolts of the method proposed by the FBI.