On 60 Minutes, Apple’s Tim Cook Calls Out ‘Political Crap’

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cotton slams Apple on encryption.

Tom Cotton on Monday slammed Apple CEO Tim Cook over his defense of encryption on “60 Minutes” and warned that major tech companies risk becoming havens for “child pornographers, drug traffickers and terrorists alike.” In the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., top law enforcement officials including FBI Director James Comey have complained about the lack of “backdoors” that would help the government decipher private communications. On one side, you have companies like Apple and Google which employ full device encryption to secure user data and keep it out of prying eyes — even if those eyes belong to law enforcement.

Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who claims Apple will soon be a go-to company for child pornographers if it doesn’t change its encryption. “Apple is a distinctive company that has improved the lives of millions of Americans. Following his comments on a shortage of skills in the U.S. and the “focus” of other countries’ educational systems on vocational training, Cook said, “you can take every tool and die maker in the U.S. and probably put them in a room that we’re currently sitting in. Apple has been one of the strongest proponents of device encryption and has fought against subpoenas that would force its hand in divulging customer data. As CBS2 reported earlier this year, ISIS spelled out the tech-loopholes in a 34-page manual that has been translated and released by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. ISIS instructed users to use apps like iMessage because it is encrypted and secure, or other messaging apps like Telegram and Whickr, because they maintain user privacy and offers a self destruction feature.

Cook has asserted that its use of end-to-end encryption, which handles encryption/decryption on-device, means that it doesn’t have access to a treasure trove of information that could normally be gleaned from iMessages or even FaceTime transmissions. One House lawmaker wants to commission an entire, select panel to study encryption; others have asked the National Academy of Sciences to open an inquiry. In a statement released Sunday night, Vance attacked Apple’s full-disk encryption plan, saying the company implemented the measure “so that it could no longer comply with the judicial search warrants that make this work possible.” “iPhones are now the first consumer products in American history that are beyond the reach of lawful warrants,” Vance said in a statement. “The result is crimes go unsolved and victims are left beyond the protection of law.” End-to-end encryption technology is now widely used in many standard message systems, including Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp. And a growing number of lawmakers are looking at ways to require the tech industry to play a greater role in policing social media for potential terrorist threats. At the Democratic debate Saturday, front-runner Hillary Clinton went as far as to call for a “Manhattan-like Project” to study ways to balance law enforcement needs with privacy, though she argued that “maybe the back door is the wrong door.” Republican candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, meanwhile, have affirmed their support for greater surveillance tools.

And yes, it would be wonderful to have a stronger focus on vocational skill training in our public schools, and even to think outside the box a bit more, with sponsored apprenticeship programs. Cotton’s statement manages to stand out through the run-of-the-mill stupidity for several reasons: He accuses Cook of omitting critical facts, but does not say which facts Cook omitted. Cotton notes that Cook’s claim that Apple cannot comply with subpoenas is true, and then insists that Apple, Google, and Facebook are held to less rigorous legal standards than phone companies.

Cotton’s statement is emblematic of a specific strain of techno-paranoia infecting Capitol Hill, but remember: This isn’t a fight between good and evil. He compared the governments antics to a drug company be forced to provide death injection drugs even if its corporate stance was against such life-ending procedures.

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