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United States President Barack Obama today spoke with Texas Tribune editor Evan Smith at South by Southwest (SXSW), where he indirectly addressed Apple's dispute with the FBI. While Obama said he could not comment specifically on the ongoing encryption battle between the two, he spoke on larger issues of privacy and security.

Obama cautioned against taking an "absolutist" view on encryption and said American citizens already make concessions to balance privacy with security in other aspects of their lives. He used warrants to search homes and possessions, something the public agrees is necessary, as a parallel to accessing data on a smartphone.

He also pointed towards airport security as an example of a compromise made between security and privacy. "It's not fun going through security," he said, "but we recognize it as important." He went on to say that the notion that data can be "walled off" from those "other tradeoffs we make" is incorrect.
The question we have to ask is if technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong there's no key, there's no door, at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot? What mechanisms do we have available to even do simple things like tax enforcement if in fact you cant crack that at all. If the government can't get in, everyone is walking around with a swiss bank account in their pocket.

There has to be some concession to the need to get that information somehow. Folks who are on the encryption side will argue that any key whatsoever, even if it starts off directed at one device, could end up being used on every device. That's just the nature of these systems. That is a technical question. I am not a software engineer. It is technically true, but it can be overstated.

Obama said that while he wants to make sure the government cannot "willy-nilly" get into everyone's iPhones without oversight and probable cause, there are "constraints we impose" to make sure we live in a safe and civilized society. He advocated for finding a balance between encryption and privacy and the government's need to investigate crimes.
My conclusion so far is that you cannot take an absolutist view on this. So if your argument is strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should, in fact, create black boxes, that I think does not strike the kind of balance that we have lived with for 200, 300 years and it is fetishizing our phones above every other value. That can't be the right answer.

I suspect that the answer is going to come down to how do we create a system where the encryption is as strong as possible, the key is as secure as possible, is accessible by the smallest number of people possible for a subset of issues that we agree are important.
Obama went on to call on software engineers and technology companies to help the government solve the problem, and he said a thorough, well-formed encryption solution should be established before it's desperately needed. He cautioned against the tech community disengaging or taking a position that "is not sustainable for the general public as a whole over time," as it could lead to a stalemate that will ultimately lead to "sloppy" legislation should the political climate change after something "really bad happens." Apple, too, has urged for the issue to be solved in Congress instead of the courts.

The president's comments come as Apple is facing off against the U.S. government in a fierce public battle over the order that would require Apple to help the FBI break into the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook by creating new software to circumvent passcode restrictions on the device. Apple believes complying with the demand would set a dangerous precedent that could lead to the overall weakening of encryption on smartphones and other electronic devices.

The Department of Justice has dismissed Apple's concerns, calling its fears overblown and insisting the request will not result in a universal "master key." Just yesterday, a government filing accused Apple of "deliberately" raising technological barriers preventing law enforcement from accessing data on Apple devices, something Apple lawyer Bruce Sewell went on to call an "unsupported, unsubstantiated effort to vilify Apple."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: President Obama: 'You Cannot Take an Absolutist View' on Encryption Issue
 
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aaronvan

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Dec 21, 2011
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**** Obama.

Treasonous scumbag.

Obama is technologically inept. I'd expect nothing less from a community organizer who still uses a Blackberry and merrily conducts extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens and routinely flies Pentagon drones all over the United States.

Obama is a totalitarian at heart. Worst president...ever.
 
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fitshaced

macrumors 68000
Jul 2, 2011
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'If the government can't get in, then everyone is walking around with a Swiss bank account'

That is truly irresponsible. Why can't I have a secure device that protects my information and not be accessible to anyone else on the planet? If we have to accept that the government need access to absolutely everything upon request then we have no privacy whatsoever. You either have privacy or you don't.

1984 is fast approaching.
 
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Mac Fly (film)

macrumors 68000
Feb 12, 2006
1,572
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Yeah Obama, and there'll be cameras in those meeting you'll have with 'BIG OIL' and they'll be streamed live like you promised. And you'll end all those wars and bring all those troops home. And there'll be transparency, you know the kind that Snowden gave you and you'll celebrate it. One big disappointment your whole presidency has been. Just because you're not Bush doesn't mean you were a good president. You drone-killing Wall St. puppet. Your good looks, friendly smile and overconfidence don't hide that you're a man without integrity or character.
 
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Piggie

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Feb 23, 2010
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Well all know this is doomed to fail long term
No way is any government going to let just anyone have total and utter secrecy forever.
It's just not a realistic scenario in the REAL world.
In a theoretical world yes great.
 
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ProjectManager101

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Jul 12, 2015
458
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Ok... 17,000 people die a year by gunshots in the U.S. That is like 45 a day. Deaths by Muslims are 16 this time.

I mean... in the U.S. you will die by a gunshot from a jewish, catholic, christian, baptist or any other religion before being murdered by a muslim. I am not scared of muslims but some how is where the spotlight is on, if you move the light you will see greater dangers... and iPhones has nothing to do with them.
 
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teslo

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2014
929
599
'If the government can't get in, then everyone is walking around with a Swiss bank account'

That is truly irresponsible. Why can't I have a secure device that protects my information and not be accessible to anyone else on the planet? If we have to accept that the government need access to absolutely everything upon request then we have no privacy whatsoever. You either have privacy or you don't.

1984 is fast approaching.

everyone has a swiss bank account - in their minds. i'm sure the DHS is repulsed by this notion.
 
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Roadstar

macrumors 68000
Sep 24, 2006
1,591
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Strong encryption is a surprisingly binary thing. You either have it or you don't. Regardless of how much governments and different agencies dream of such a thing, there's no encryption with a backdoor that's available only for the good guys. I want to keep the bad guys from accessing my data, and as the only way to truly achieve that involves keeping also the good guys from accessing my data, it's a price worth paying even though it makes the job harder for many (at least allegedly) good guys.
 
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