In the FBI-Apple debacle, US law enforcement is declaring that technology is creating a unique “warrant proof” area via encryption and privacy protecting software, that the government needs to be able to access in order to protect us. Yet we human beings are born with such a “warrant proof” area, and the founding fathers established that we had the right not to incriminate ourselves. Our thoughts are known only to ourselves, and face to face verbal conversations between only two people can be totally warrant proof, unless we talk about it. Business of all nature requires the existence of such privacy as well as the privacy of our notes and files.
Now, many of us are using our phones as memory aides and as communications tools. We want our information to be private and not accessible to those who would abuse us – which sadly, could be anyone, including family. As a former bullied student I still remember being hauled into the principal’s office and being asked why the bullies were picking on me… I was a smart short chubby kid and bullies wanted my homework, my snacks, and my fear. I refused to give this to them, and learned that bullies come in many shapes, sizes and dress, including the ones who were supposed to protect me. Bullies would use whatever info they could get to abuse others, and this is still happening. Of course, sometimes we small kids don’t mind giving out personal information, since it can be beneficial – like Google and Apple and other large services that use our info to help us out – but we are still wary of someone abusing the trust. And, for those of us who have done business in countries where rule of law is the exception, and gun toting people can do as they please, our fear of being scapegoated or used by unlawful groups is based on experience. Worse yet, even in law-abiding countries, criminals have always been able to get information from law enforcement sources, even before the days of hackers and whistle-blowers.
As I see it, the info in my personal phone, when encrypted, is an extension of my memory and should be considered under my protection from self-incrimination. Though criminals have been abusing the secrecy of our words, files and private meetings for millennia, we should expect the government to protect our privacy, not weaken it.
I am all for security and compliance with the law, and the greatest law of all is the US Constitution, which protects our privacy and other rights. In spite of that, in the 21st Century, we find that some individuals and organizations abuse their powers – on many fronts and areas – and lawyers defend each of them to prove the client did nothing wrong. But by focusing on the abusers, the “bullies” if you will, we forget the victims and citizens in general: if we lose our privacy and the freedom privacy brings, that is definitely breaking the greatest law on this land.
Let us do something right, then, and continue to protect individual privacy and freedom, and improve law enforcement techniques in a more reasonable fashion. Free business dealings depend on this, as do all of our industrial secrets and strategies. Developing a sound business privacy plan is just a first step. Acting on the plan effectively, with knowledgeable third party support is another.