Feds & Technology

In the last few days, several reports have emerged outlining steps the United States Federal Government is taking in realm of (personal) technology. These accounts are in line with what I recently told you in a post about Smart Speakers. When it comes to technology, privacy/security trumps EVERYTHING and the three (3) reports below are proof that the contentious convergence of government and technology is here to stay.

Here’s what you need to know:

Amazon, Google, Microsoft… Selling face-snooping tech to the Feds (The Register)

  • Why should you care? More than 85 advocacy groups focused on a diverse set of social issues, including racial justice, religious liberty, civil rights, human rights, and immigrant rights have raised concerns about this practice, including the ACLU.
  • You can read the full text of their letter here.

“History has clearly taught us that the government will exploit technologies like face surveillance to target communities of color, religious minorities, and immigrants.”

Feds Can’t Force You To Unlock Your iPhone…. With Finger Or Face (Forbes)

  • Why should you care? The judge says all logins are equal. In the past, they couldn’t force you to give up your pass code, now fingerprints, facial recognition (or other future innovations… i.e. voice) are also included. Forcing you to do this could be the equivalent of forcing you to self incriminate.

“If a person cannot be compelled to provide a pass code because it is a testimonial communication, a person cannot be compelled to provide one’s finger, thumb, iris, face, or other biometric feature to unlock that same device,” the judge wrote.

Feds to allow drones to to fly over crowds at night… and make routine night flights (ABC)

  • Why should you care? Rogue drones have been used to carry bombs on battlefields, to deliver contraband to prisoners, to interfere with firefighters and, last month, to cripple the operations of a major airport.
  • Last year, Congress approved a measure that will let the government develop a system to identify and hack or shoot down drones that authorities deem threatening.
  • Do these statements make you feel safe?

“Drones can collect massive amounts of sensitive data from people and can be equipped with facial recognition technology as well as license plate reading software”

Suzette Kemp is the Federal Government’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) appointed by President Donald Trump. The federal CIO is charged with driving government wide technology policy, leading the federal CIO Council and often putting out unexpected IT fires. She has recently said her office is crafting legislation to provide the government with “guardrails” for how to incorporate the technologies and ensure they don’t possess bias that runs counter to the mission of agencies (FedScoop).

Apple vs. FBI

The FBI ordered Apple to create a “backdoor” so it can break into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c. Apple basically said no, challenging the FBI on encryption.

Official_Apple_Logo_2013_Pictures_5_HD_WallpapersSurely Apple saw this coming which is why CEO Tim Cooke started his appeal months ago. I’m 100% convinced that if we were not living in a post-Snowden world, Apple would have never had the “balls” (pardon my language) to stand up to the FBI. Apple must think it has the support of the American people; however, most in the tech community would support its position. The average Joe? We can’t be so sure so an uphill battle is almost a given. This case could make its way all the way to the Supreme Court... oh, wait, we only have 8. So in a tie breaker, the ruling of the lower court stands <== important point here

Supreme Court: What happens in case of a tie? The high court’s ruling is rendered almost meaningless; it leaves the most recent decision intact, usually from a federal appeals court or a top state court. There is no new, national precedent created by the nation’s highest court. USA Today

fbi-sealThe FBI’s case was brought forth in the STATE of CALIFORNIA. Recently, a lawmaker introduced a law that would ban encryption on ALL phones in the state starting in 2017. In essence he wants all phones to be, “capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” There’s also a similar bill in New York.

It remains to be seen where other tech giants like Microsoft, Samsung and Google will land in this debate. You better believe if Apple is FORCED to do this,  other cell phone manufactures will be on the hook as well. If they all side with Apple, #GameOn. Either way, it’s an interesting dialogue to have!  Regardless of your position on this issue, pay attention people! (I just turned notifications on for Eric Snowden on Twitter… can’t wait to hear what he as to say).

***BTW, do you know how much money do we spend on the FBI each year?? Wikipedia said the number was $8.3 billion in 2014 (2 years ago). If breaking into an iPhone is the only “chance” we have to catch a terrorist network/cell, we may already be doomed.

Watch a preview of Tim Cooke’s 60-minute interview from December 2015 here:

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View the statement issued by Apple last night (click the image to read more)

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