The Internet is abuzz with the FBI trying to get Apple to acquiesce to enabling the FBI to break security on the iPhone owned by one of the shooters in the San Bernadino shooter case.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has written an impassioned letter articulating why Apple is fighting what the FBI is asking for. Fred Wilson is conflicted, and like all things Fred, half the goodness is reading his clear narrative, and half is reading the fantastic discourse in the comments section.
Meanwhile, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Yahoo sit silent, and Google's response is best described as convoluted and cautious. If you believe as I do that what you incent is what you reap, then the respective positions are understandable. Apple makes its money selling hardware devices and software + digital media to consumers. What's good for the consumer is what's good for Apple.
By contrast, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, et al make their money selling user's data, Amazon powers the CIA via AWS, and Microsoft does tremendous amounts of government business. Their respective North Stars are directionally clear, and it's not consumer first (though Amazon is closest to Apple).
My take? I think the simple calculus here is that what makes digital data different is that in absence of unbreakable encryption, you have a recipe for governments, large corporations or bad actors to maintain an: A) Automatic; B) Ever growing; C) Never ceasing data store of every communication you have -- good, bad or gray.
That store of data can be mined, categorized, or combined based upon a seemingly endless array of algorithms, and you wouldn't know until it's too late that, for example, five seemingly innocuous conversations you had over multiple years leave you f-cked for:
A) Identity Theft
B) False Prosecution
C) Discrimination by Insurance Companies, Financial Institutions, etc.
As we have seen in the wake of Post-911, what can be exploited in terms of monitoring and misuse of personal data, WILL be exploited.
Hence, it's not a question of giving the backdoor to the good actor, as if US has it, its allies will have it, its favored business lobby will have it, and so too, will its adversaries have it.
The litmus test for personal rights like Miranda Rights, are specifically whether we push those rights down to even the bad, unsavory characters. Why? Experience and wisdom dictates that the tool that can be plied against the guilty will be just as sharply used against the innocent.
UPDATE: Mark Cuban has chimed in with his take. Well worth a read, but here is the excerpt: To those that say that Apple should comply, I say this...Every tool that protects our privacy and liberties against oppression, tyranny, madmen and worse can often be used to take those very precious rights from us. But like we protect our 2nd Amendment Right, we must not let some of the negatives stand in the way of all the positives. We must stand up for our rights to free speech and liberty.