RUSH: I’ve been listening to a number of people talk about the debate, this whole FBI versus Apple and iPhone thing, and Tim Cook granted a very lengthy interview with ABC’s David Muir, and World News Tonight about this, trying to explain his position and the FBI is explaining theirs.
And it’s… Look, it’s no different in this than any other thing that would come up, but it’s fascinating, really, when in my case I am an expert on much of this. And to listen to people who don’t know what they’re talking about talk about it with passion, it’s fascinating. It’s an interesting, it’s an educational, informative thing to watch people who don’t really know what they’re talking about. I mean, it’s not that they’re purposely getting things wrong. It’s that they think they have it under control, a total understanding.
And when you listen to ’em, they don’t.
I’ve seen this on TV from show to show, not just one particular show. But here’s the bottom line to this — and it’s tough, too, because James Comey, the FBI director, is a solid guy. He worked for John Ashcroft. I’ve never met him, but a lot of people I know also know him and have great things to say about him. But what the government’s saying they want here is simply not what they’re actually angling for when they say it’s just about access to this one phone. Mr. Comey himself said, “Look, it’s not even a phone that’s in wide use. It’s an iPhone 5c.”
It doesn’t matter, this whole story, it doesn’t matter what kind of phone it is. It doesn’t matter the model. It doesn’t matter any — doesn’t matter the specifics of the phone. That’s not what is at stake here. This is about much more than simply a software company manufacturing an apparatus for the government to be able to get into one — and only one — phone. That is by no means what this is about. And, furthermore, this would have been solved — this whole thing would have been over with by now and nobody would have even known about it — except the FBI took it public.
The FBI went public with this.
That put Apple on notice.
It put them on the defensive because their marketing ends up being attacked here and a number of other things. The FBI going public with this has the resulted in them not getting what they want, for all intents and purposes. I mean, it’s not guaranteed, but this episode might have already ended with nobody knowing anything about it. They were talking back channels, private. It wasn’t public. The FBI took it public. The reason the FBI took it public is because they’re converting this incident into a PR vehicle to get more than what they really are stating they want.
They want, ultimately, to force software writers and manufacturers to eliminate encryption. And if not that, to give them the keys to be able to decrypt the content on phones. And they’re using the threat of terrorism as a means of emotionally involving everybody here. I mean, who can oppose finding out everything you can find out about terrorists? Who in the world would stand in the way of trying to find out what terrorism is lurking out there and who the terrorist might be? If all that information perhaps is on that one phone, who could possibly oppose that?
So the FBI wants to make everybody think that’s what this is about, when it isn’t. Their desires go way beyond being able to find out what’s on this one phone — way, way beyond it. And in the midst of this, do you know what Apple is doing? And I’m here to tell you that this is going to be something that is going to end up irritating a lot of people down the road. Because of this — and I think even prior to this incident happening. You know, Apple, if you trust their marketing, if you trust what they say when they market and sell their products — primarily their devices, the iPhones and iPads and so forth.
If you believe them, then you believe that they are really totally invested in your privacy and really totally invested in your security. And they don’t want anybody to be able to hack into your phone, get in your phone, find out what’s on your phone without your permission. So what Apple is doing — and it may show up on the next iPhone, the iPhone 7, which is due to hit in September. Apple is working on securing their system software even more. And what they’re going to end up with, if they succeed in this — and there’s nothing technologically to stop them.
It’s, again, a marketing decision to do this or not. They could end up having system software that not even Apple would be able to crack. It will be so secure that not even Apple will be able to crack it. Now, you might say, “Well, that’s really great, man! I’ll be for that.” Well, here’s the problem with that: Most people forget passwords. Well, not most, but a lot of people forget passwords. You would be stunned at the number of customer service calls that Apple and other similar tech companies get every day from people who have forgotten their passwords to their devices and don’t know what to do.
They have no way to get in if they’ve forgotten their password, and there are mechanisms in place that if you try a number of times and get it wrong, in the case of Apple, they will delay the next attempt and delay the next attempt. And then after 10 attempts, if you have it set the phone’s data will be erased. It’s the ultimate security: Just wipe it. After 10 attempts, the assumption is that somebody other than the owner is trying to get in there. The first four attempts, you can try them immediately right after.
If you fail four times, for the fifth attempt you have to wait a minute. If that fails, you have to wait 10 minutes, on up to the tenth time, which is the last time. After failed attempt number nine, you have to wait an hour before trying the tenth time. And if it fails the tenth time, sayonara. Now, in that case, you can call Apple now. When you set up your device and when you establish your passcode, you were given questions to answer what your favorite course in school was — you know, questions only you could possibly know the answers to — in case you forget your password.
When you want Apple to open the phone for you, reset your password so you can get into it, you have to be able to prove who you are, more than with your credit card, more than with conventional identification data, you have to answer certain questions that you choose to answer when you set it all up. Apple’s preparing to eliminate all that. They’re gonna take this, the complete end of the road. If you forget your password, you are screwed. There will not be a way into it.
Apple is writing it so that not even they will be able to unlock anybody’s phone, and they’re doing this on the basis of promising ultimate, total security and privacy. Now, that’s gonna end up making a lot of people really irritated because there are more people than you would understand — or maybe not understand, believe — who forget their passwords. Have you ever forgotten a password? I’ve never forgotten my phone PIN or passcode. But if it’s been years since I’ve used, say, a website where I need one?
I’ve forgotten some. It happens to everybody, is the point. It’s getting to the point where, if they succeed in this, — they’re calling it “improvement in security” — and you forget it, and if you did not set up ways for you to remind yourself what that password is, you’re gonna be out of luck. And if they do this, it’s gonna make these phones hack proof, but it’s gonna irritate a lot of people who forget their passwords and did not set up mechanisms whereby they can be reminded what their password is.
It’s a little bit more involved than this. I’m just giving you the surface end result of this. One of the ways that you can beat the system now — and this is what the San Bernardino County people screwed up. There’s a way you can get into every iPhone without a passcode, and it is to put it in recovery mode and restore software, restore the operating system to it. And you can do all of that with — and preserving the data on the phone. You can do all of that by installing a new system from recovery mode.
Now, getting into recovery mode’s not an easy thing to do. It takes a little practice to get in there, but you have to figure out how to put the phone into recovery mode. Connect it to iTunes (can’t use iCloud for this), and then once you’ve done that, you have a way of getting into the phone. This is what the San Bernardino people blew that opportunity by changing the Apple ID password. They were trying to get in and find a backup on iCloud of the data on the phone that they could get to, and because they changed…
They didn’t know what they had.
They didn’t know what they were doing.
They didn’t know that they had total control over the device and everybody else
that has a device that they gave. So it’s not just about this one phone, and it’s not just about whatever’s on this phone stopping terrorism. They want ways into all kinds of devices. They want the devices to be less encrypted than they are now. But they’re camouflaging those desires by focusing everybody’s attention here. “It’s just one phone! It’s just a terrorist’s phone. Who in the world could not want us to find out what was on that phone to stop terrorism?”
That’s the position Apple finds themselves in, and is having to explain this.
It’s a tough sell.