By: Deegan Mundy
I didn’t realize that I had a big brother until I was 20.
With a cup of medium roast coffee in my hand, I found him in between the pages of the New York Times. It was 2013, and I’m talking about the government. I’m an only child, and have never had a sibling, nor have I ever taken the time to assess my opinions on mass surveillance and national security. Well, that is not until June 2013, when Edward Snowden leaked information from the National Security Agency (N.S.A.) I dove into an article that sent me into a mad quest for understanding just how much my so-called “big brother” knew.
To remind those of you that have forgotten, Snowden leaked information that shed light on the metadata being collected by the N.S.A. Although it was “just metadata,” further research later revealed that a lot of information about a person’s personal affairs can be discovered through the metadata on their phone, which in turn sparked a debate that remains prevalent: Where does the line between national security end and information privacy begin?
I’m drudging up the past because of the latest battle in the war between national security and information privacy, which began on Sept. 19, 2014 with the release of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 plus.
The “new and improved” iPhone not only bends so that its user can rest easy when sitting down with their iPhone in their back pockets, but it also encrypts all emails, photos, and contacts with a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code unique to its user that will inhibit the N.S.A.’s ability (as well as the ability of other law enforcement) to inspect the phone’s metadata.
The kicker is: Apple will not have possession of any of the codes. Therefore, when Apple is court-ordered to turn in one of their new secret, Snowden-coded iPhones, they will instead turn in, somewhat mocking I must imagine, a gibberish list of metadata that will be seemingly unbreakable.
Team information privacy -1, team national security – 0.
The angered F.B.I. and N.S.A. believe that this strategic move by Apple will ignite a domino effect amongst other companies. Of course, this leaves us with yet another question: Who decides what and how much information/data the government can have? Congress or private companies?
I for one am interested to find out. But for now, the battle ensues.