Tilting At Windmills?
This is a two-fer post from GorT as both topics fall into the subject line.
Topic 1: Justice Scalia’s Replacement
My personal take on this is that the Senate Republicans screwed up but did nothing illegal or unconstitutional. Specifically, I think they should have sat back, quietly reflected on Justice Scalia’s work and patiently wait for President Obama’s nominee. At this point, if they oppose this nominee, they could not bring the matter to the floor and wait. Yes, there would be a political price that they might pay, but the Constitution provides no timeline or requirement for the Senate to act. Of course, it’s also a gamble as to who wins the election and what sort of nominee they will put forward.
Having said all of this (and made multiple attempts in email debates, twitter exchanges, and Facebook posts), I will say that one idea I came across yesterday suggested an interesting, alternative process that we should follow. I’m not sure if it could ever be pulled off given the long history of the current process but I’d like to see it tried. Instead of the President starting the process, the Senate begins by “advising” the President of a list of candidates they would recommend. The President then takes that advice and submits a single nominee to the Senate for confirmation (“consent”). If the President chooses one from the list, the process should be streamlined. However, if the President opts for an alternate candidate of his or her own choosing, the process we are familiar with continues.
Regardless, those attacking the Senate for doing something unconstitutional are flat out wrong. They fail to provide any factual basis for their claims.
Topic 2: Apple, the FBI, and the San Bernardino Terrorists
Many people are touting Tim Cook’s efforts to forestall the FBI with regards to their processing of the iPhone that was in the possession of the San Bernardino terrorists – mostly in the name of protecting citizen’s data from prying government eyes. First, I’m not advocating that the government should have unfettered access to our data. Second, assuming that the government is organized and competent enough to collect all of our private emails, phone calls, web history, etc and do something with is the subject of conspiracy theorists. Third, and really the meat of my argument, let’s look at the facts and details behind the request by the FBI.
The request asks Apple for three things:
- Apple will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled;
- Apple will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT DEVICE; and
- Apple will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beond what is incurred by Apple hardware.
It is of note that the FBI did NOT request Apple to decrypt the data or the iPhone. They provided an avenue where Apple can guarantee that the ONLY iPhone affected is the one that is of interest for this case:
The SIF will be loaded on the SUBJECT DEVICE at either a government facility, or alternatively, at an Apple facility; if the latter, Apple shall provide the government with remote access to the SUBJECT DEVICE through a computer allowed the government to conduct passcode recovery analysis.
It is also worth noting, as Apple is defending their stance on behalf of their customers, that the iPhone was the property of the terrorists employer: the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. The department has given the FBI permission to access the device. The device was purchased with taxpayer funds, so one could also argue that the phone is the property of the people of San Bernardino.
There is plenty to target the US Government over but this isn’t one of them. In GorT’s mind, Apple should comply with the court order and do so specifically for the single iPhone in question at their facility.
GorT is an eight-foot-tall robot from the 51ˢᵗ Century who routinely time-travels to steal expensive technology from the future and return it to the past for retroinvention. The profits from this pay all the Gormogons’ bills, including subsidizing this website. Some of the products he has introduced from the future include oven mitts, the Guinness widget, Oxy-Clean, and Dr. Pepper. Due to his immense cybernetic brain, GorT is able to produce a post in 0.023 seconds and research it in even less time. Only ’Puter spends less time on research. GorT speaks entirely in zeros and ones, but occasionally throws in a ڭ to annoy the Volgi. He is a massive proponent of science, technology, and energy development, and enjoys nothing more than taking the Czar’s more interesting scientific theories, going into the past, publishing them as his own, and then returning to take credit for them. He is the only Gormogon who is capable of doing math. Possessed of incredible strength, he understands the awesome responsibility that follows and only uses it to hurt people.