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The FBI is fighting Apple in an attempt to get the company to help it unlock the suspected San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. The issue is far more complicated than it seems, however, and John Oliver dedicated a large portion of his show on Sunday to explaining Apple’s argument.
Oliver describes encryption as the “best way to keep people from reading your email short of making the subject line ‘Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Hilarious Joke From Uncle Walter.’”
Apple is worried that giving the FBI the encryption key to Syed Rizwan’s phone would possibly be giving law enforcement a “master key” that would unlock other people’s iPhones. Apple believes this also puts people at risk for hackers to more easily access their phones if the encryption key is stolen and duplicated.
“Beneath their shiny rose gold service,” said Oliver of Apple, “they are incredibly susceptible to hackers.”
“Think of the government like your dad,” said the Last Week Tonight host. “If he asks you to help him with his iPhone, be careful. If you do it once, you’re going to be doing it 14 times a day.”
He asked his audience to consider all of the different elements to the argument, the “legal tenuousness of the FBI’s case, the security risks of creating a key, the borderline impossibility of perfectly securing the key, the international fallout of creating a precedent, and the fact that a terrorist can circumvent all of this by downloading whatever the f–k [encryption app] Threema is.”
Oliver said all of this is “enough to sway the most strident opinion” and although strong encryption “has its costs,” the risks of weakening encryption are “potentially much worse.” Thus, he is on Apple’s side of this debate.
However, Oliver said it would help if Apple were more honest about security in their ads. To help the company out, he created a fake Apple commercial. “Here’s something you should know,” the Apple voiceover says. “We’re barely one step ahead of hackers at all times, so that when you idiots lose your phone your information doesn’t wind up in the hands of guys like Gary.”
The voiceover points out that without strong encryption, hacker Gary can access personal information on your phone. “Now I can masturbate to photos of your family,” says Gary.
Can the Apple team help unlock one phone while also keeping all other phone security features secure? “We’re engineers, not wizards,” the Apple engineer in the commercial says. Watch below.
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