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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Forty years later would be 2024?

What's the difference between prison and a world run by a beneficent well-meaning computer system that for our own good ensures we humans always make the right choice, even if that means we don't actually get to make a choice?

"I'm sorry I can't let you have that Dave."

"What? Why not?"

"You're already ten pounds overweight based on height, weight, and body fat caliper test."

"So what? I want pizza for dinner. This is a free country isn't it? I get to decide what I have for dinner. Not you. Now order the God Damned Pizza!"

The FBI wants Apple to create a special software to help it unlock the iPhone of a San Bernardino mass shooting suspect. Apple is arguing that conscripting it to write code that will weaken its security will set a chilling legal precedent to allow the government to strong-arm tech companies into weakening their security measures.

In CIT’s projected scenario, it’s not just police pressuring Apple to turn on iPhones—it’s law enforcement turning Amazon Echo and Samsung’s smart TVs into surreptitious listening devices:

iPhones and other mobile phones are not the only common consumer appliances that this Order sets a precedent for converting to surveillance devices. Amazon distributes an appliance called the Echo that captures spoken voice.15 While Amazon designed the Echo only to send voice data to Amazon if it “hears” the word “Alexa,” that limitation, like the iPhone passcode limitations, is encoded in software. Similarly, smart TVs, like those sold by Samsung, capture and transmit owners’ voices in an effort to identify natural language commands and search requests. In responding to consumer privacy concerns, Samsung assured the public that TV owners’ voice data would only be collected if the TV user clicks the activation button and speaks into the microphone on the remote control.

Again, like the iPhone passcode limitations, this privacy safeguard is a function of software. If the government is allowed compel Apple to change its software to enable decryption and forensic access here, will it also be allowed to compel Amazon to update the Echo, or Samsung to update its Smart TVs, to always collect some customers’ conversations?

If you have nothing to hide. If you have nothing to lose. If you're in perfect health. If you never make mistakes. If you are righteous, virtuous, and perfect, then ... what are you afraid of? Step up on that glass slide so that you can be thoroughly examined under the government's microscope. Only the guilty need privacy, right?

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