Tech Lobby Failing to Change CA Online Privacy Law

With the California Legislature in the final three weeks of its session, big tech companies and business lobbies have so far had little success in getting changes to the California Consumer Privacy Act. The landmark online privacy law – enacted in summer 2018 – takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The law parallels a sweeping measure adopted by the European Union that took effect in May 2018. It gives consumers the right to know who is collecting what data on them from their online browsing and provides them the choice of opting out from collection.

Defenders of the state law say the reason it has been targeted so vigorously is because tech firms know that California often influences what other states or even Congress does. These companies prefer the present anything-goes data accumulation landscape allowed under federal law. The Golden State law did appear to inspire 24 states to consider online privacy laws this year, according to Pew’s Stateline research site, though few have been enacted so far.

Critics: Flaws will hurt bottom lines, customers

But critics say they are going after the law because it is poorly crafted and could both drive companies out of business and reduce the ways that online information gathering actually helps consumers by connecting them to goods and services they are likely to want. Among the criticisms offered by the California Chamber of Commerce and the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business:

  • The limits put on what “personal information” can be gathered are so broadly written that they apply to broad swaths of information that can’t be linked to individuals but that can help businesses develop marketing strategies.
  • The provision banning businesses from the sale of information gathered online is so broad it will make it difficult for businesses to use information that it has gathered directly and legitimately from use of their websites to determine what customized content to provide customers.

Legislation that would address these concerns has not advanced. 

Local agencies fear effect on public health, tax collection

The Bay Area News Group also reported on the failure of a bill that would have allowed government agencies to have access to consumer information for a variety of priorities, including helping government officials “to collect child support, find people exposed to infectious diseases, locate foster children’s family members, determine social service eligibility, and collect delinquent taxes and judgments.”

One measure – Assembly Bill 25 by Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park – has made progress. It would make clear that the law doesn’t cover employees acting within the scope of their basic job duties. As a co-sponsor of the original law, Chau had more credibility than some of the lawmakers’ who appeared to be proposing changes at the tech industry’s behest.

AB25 passed the Assembly on a 77-0 vote in May and an amended version was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on an 8-0 vote last month. But it has not been considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee since its referral.

Dramatic late-session moves could resurrect some of the more controversial bills seeking to narrow the Consumer Privacy Act. But an official with the Electronic Frontier Foundation told the Bay Area News Group that come Jan. 1, the foundation expected that “the same bill [adopted last year] goes into effect.”

Why focus is likely to shift from Sacramento to Albany

The tech companies and lobbying groups could soon shift their attention from California, the richest state in terms of GDP, to New York, the third richest.

In 2020, lawmakers there are expected to consider perhaps the most far-reaching online privacy law in the world. One likely provision would make it a “fiduciary duty” for companies to use the data they accumulate in ways that advance the customer’s best interests. Depending on how this is interpreted, this could mean the end of the present model of micro-targeting of consumers through information gained from their online searches and activity – at least in New York state.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Privacy Risks of New Vaccination Bill

With crucial votes due soon on a bill to make it more difficult for parents to get vaccine exemptions for their children, opponents are emphasizing a different criticism of the measure. Instead of continuing to focus on vaccine safety, they say one of its provisions is an ominous and unreasonable invasion of privacy.

Most of the attention paid to Senate Bill 276, by state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, has dealt with its broad parameters. It would require the state Department of Public Health to review all vaccine exemptions at individual schools if fewer than 95 percent of students are immunized. That’s the minimum percentage that public health officials say is necessary for “herd immunity” from infectious diseases. The department would also investigate doctors who issue five or more exemptions in a year.

But Pan’s bill also requires parents seeking exemptions to provide their children’s medical records if public health officials choose to investigate whether exemptions were properly provided. A recent San Francisco Chronicle story noted how much this galled some parents.

“Who’s to say they won’t use that information for something else in the future?” Allison Serrao, an Orange County mother of three, told the newspaper. “It’s really scary to me as a parent. It crosses a lot of lines.”

‘Loophole’ blamed for shielding doctors

Supporters of the bill note that the state already deals with confidential medical records – such as by tracking sexually transmitted diseases – without problems. Some see the privacy complaints as an attempt to preserve what they consider a “loophole” that has let doctors who issued dubious exemptions off the hook.

That’s because under the 2014 law, also introduced by Pan, that ended “personal belief” exemptions – approved after a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland – parents can impede investigations. They can refuse to answer questions from investigators and decline to allow release of their children’s medical records.

In 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported on the phenomenon of scores of doctors being accused of authorizing invalid medical exemptions but almost never being punished.

As California Healthline reported last month, the state can sue for access to doctors’ medical records. This year, the state Department of Consumer Affairs – which oversees the California Medical Board – has sued to obtain records from two physicians in the Santa Rosa area and two in Sacramento.

Only one of nearly 200 complaints upheld

But such actions are relatively rare. As of early August, only one state physician out of the nearly 200 accused of wrongly writing exemptions over the last four years has faced sanctions, according to the Chronicle. And the only reason that officials were able to build a case against Dana Point pediatrician Bob Sears was because one of the parents of a child he gave an exemption to objected to the decision and provided investigators with medical records. That led to Sears being put on probation by the Medical Board in 2008.

Pan’s bill was approved 24-10 by the state Senate on May 22. In the Assembly, the bill was weakened after Gov. Gavin Newsom questioned whether it would set up an unwieldy bureaucracy. The modified version of SB276 passed the Assembly Health Committee 9-2 on June 20.

To become law, the modified bill must pass both the full Assembly and the Senate by Sept. 13, when the current legislative session ends. 

The vaccine fight is playing out as U.S. public health authorities struggle with measles outbreaks in New York and Washington states. The problem is even more severe in nations as varied as Italy, Israel and the Philippines. Worldwide, there has been a 300percent increase in measles cases since last year.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

What You Need to Know About California’s New Data Privacy Law


internetLate last month, California passed a sweeping consumer privacy law that might force significant changes on companies that deal in personal data — and especially those operating in the digital space. The law’s passage comes on the heels of a few days of intense negotiation among privacy advocates, technology startups, network providers, Silicon Valley internet companies, and others. Those discussions have resulted in what many are describing as a landmark policy constituting the most stringent data protection regime in the United States.

Much of the political impetus behind the law’s passage came from some major privacy scandals that have come to light in recent months, including the Cambridge Analytica incident involving Facebook user data. This and other news drove public support for a privacy ballot initiative that would have instituted an even stricter data protection regime on companies that deal in consumer data if the state’s residents voted to pass it in November. But after intense negotiation, especially from leading internet companies and internet service providers, the backers of the ballot initiative agreed to drop the initiative and instead support the passage of the law.

The new law — the California Consumer Privacy Act, A.B. 375 — affords California residents an array of new rights, starting with the right to be informed about what kinds of personal data companies have collected and why it was collected. Among other novel protections, the law stipulates that consumers have the right to request the deletion of personal information, opt out of the sale of personal information, and access the personal information in a “readily useable format” that enables its transfer to third parties without hindrance. …

Click here to read the full article from Harvard Business Review

Personal drones remain free to fly the CA sky


DronePublic and private interests have combined in California to discourage statewide legislation regulating the use of personal drones, putting the prospect of new rules on ice indefinitely.

Gov. Jerry Brown went out of his way to sink prior legislation that would have applied a layer of state law to California drone operators. “But not every governmental authority feels that it has enough power to deal with drones,” as the San Francisco Chronicle noted. “An increasing number of California cities, worried about the safety and privacy of their citizens, have passed laws restricting drone use. The result is a patchwork, and one that might be thoroughly cleared up with state legislation. But this year, it seems highly unlikely that legislation will even make it to the governor’s desk.”

0 and 2

Supporters of the rules Brown vetoed had hoped to find a way forward. But this year, “the pushback to new rules is coming not from the governor but through the lobbying efforts of a budding industry that hopes to influence policy at the state Capitol and nationwide,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“As drones multiply in number and category, cities and states want to set boundaries. But drone manufacturers and associations this legislative session boosted their politicking, successfully beating back several bills they said would create a patchwork of laws that vary by state and hinder innovation.”

Although each bill initially passed, both were killed off in committee. “Senate Bill 868 failed on a vote in the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, while Assembly Bill 1820 was voted down by the Senate Judiciary Committee,” as the Electronic Freedom Foundation, which opposed the legislation, enthused. With consumer interest in drones growing and going mainstream — the gadgets can now readily be acquired online or in big box stores like Target or Best Buy — lobbyists would appear to have public opinion on their side, at least until the volume of drones in the skies reaches a considerably greater size.

Fire focus

The impact of drone law on the Golden State has come under greater scrutiny this summer as a grueling fire season has dangerously attracted amateur operators. As CNBC recently reported, “Firefighters battling the Sand Fire in Southern California had to shut down aerial firefighting operations for about 30 minutes after an unauthorized drone entered airspace that the FAA put under temporary restriction due to the active wildfire.” To the frustration of firefighters nationwide, wildfire intrusion incidents involving drones have “more than doubled from 2014 to 2015,” the network noted, citing the U.S. Department of the Interior.

To address the problem, the federal government has taken the first step toward a comprehensive new approach. The Interior Department recently rolled out a “national system intended to prevent hobby drones from interfering with planes and helicopters fighting wildfires,” the Associated Press noted, with a pilot project offering a “smartphone app and real-time wildfire information to create virtual boundaries, or geofences, that drones can’t cross.”

The Interior Department partnered on the project with drone navigation data companies AirMap and Skyward and the leading manufacturer of civilian drones, DJI, opening up its Integrated Reporting Wildland-Fire Information database. Through the new program, “information contained in the database is immediately pushed to drone pilots through apps on their smartphones, with the smartphones themselves typically used to navigate in combination with the drone’s GPS,” according to the AP.

A California edge

In fact, the onset of new federal regulations around drone usage has helped strengthen California’s lead in drone technology and performance. As the California Council on Science and Technology recently observed, “The new rules on commercial drone usage allow farmers to use drones to help more precisely monitor water usage, allowing more efficient use of water.” In the interest of pushing similar functions ahead, the Tesla Foundation has partnered with the San Bernardino International Airport to launch a national center for commercial drone research, the National Commercial Drone Research Center, the CCST reported.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

New smoking age to take effect in California


As reported by the Associated Press:

Andrew Rodriguez was 15 years old when he smoked his first cigarette. He knows how addictive smoking can be and hopes a new California law raising the smoking age will discourage young people from taking up the habit.

“I think it’s better,” said the 21-year-old chef-in-training from Los Angeles. “I just hope they don’t raise the drinking age.”

Beginning Thursday, smokers have to be at least 21 to buy tobacco products in California. The nation’s most populous state joins Hawaii and more than 100 municipalities in raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. Anyone who sells or gives tobacco to people under 21 could be found guilty of a misdemeanor crime.

Huthyfa Ali, a convenience store clerk near downtown Los Angeles, doesn’t expect the new rule to affect business since he doesn’t serve many teenage customers. Ali applauded the effort to deter minors from using tobacco products, but noted that determined youngsters tend to find a way around the law.

“Sometimes they send other people to buy for them. Maybe some people will be too scared to ask” under the new law, he said.

The push to raise the minimum smoking age in California stalled for months over …

Click here to read the full story

Californians Must Know What NSA Spies Know About Us


President Obama is going to Hiroshima.

When the president travels to Japan later this month for a G-7 summit meeting, he will visit a memorial site that honors the memory of those killed in 1945 when President Harry Truman made the decision to use the atomic bomb to end World War II in the Pacific.

It’s a reminder that the fearsome power of the United States government is under the control of elected civilians.

The atomic bomb was new in 1945, but the structure that controlled its use dates to the 18th century. The U.S. Constitution gives the power to declare war — and to spend or withhold funds for it — not to military leaders or intelligence professionals but to Congress. The president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, outranking everyone in uniform even if he (or she) never served in the military personally.

The design was intended to ensure that the American people control the U.S. government, and not the other way around.

barack obama nsa phone verizonThat’s why the information that has come to light about the National Security Agency’s secret data collection programs is so troubling. In the name of keeping the American people safe from terrorist attacks, the U.S. government has been collecting and saving the email and Internet activity records of innocent Americans and allowing government agents to search the data without a warrant.

Congress is asking questions, and not getting answers.

Sometime next year, lawmakers will have to decide whether to reauthorize Section 702 of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act, which is set to expire. The law has allowed the U.S. attorney general and the director of national intelligence to intercept the communications of targeted foreign nationals, but it turns out that data from Americans has been swept up in the process.

How many Americans have had their emails and Internet activity records collected by this warrantless surveillance? The Obama administration won’t say. Last month 14 lawmakers from both parties sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper demanding an answer, but Clapper would only say he’s looking at “several options” for providing the information, “none of which are optimal.”

In a recent hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee, senators were told that the intelligence agencies are ignoring the required “minimization” procedures, which call for the communications of innocent Americans to be deleted when discovered.

But a report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board found that the information is never deleted. “It sits in the databases for five years, or sometimes longer,” board chairman David Medine told the senators, and the program “does not just target terrorists” but anyone with “foreign intelligence value.”

Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, expressed concern over the government’s “backdoor searches” of the collected data. Without a warrant, just by filing a “query,” government agents can read every private word.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, of California, insisted that the surveillance program has helped U.S. authorities foil terrorist plots. She said the government should declassify more reports so the public can see the value of the law.

That’s really not enough. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures and requires the government to get warrants. That constitutional right can’t simply be erased by a couple of declassified reports declaring the usefulness of warrantless searches.

If Congress doesn’t get answers to all its questions, lawmakers shouldn’t hesitate to let Section 702 fade into the sunset.

The power of the U.S. government is too great to be uncontrolled.

An Apple a Day Keeps Nationalism Away


AppleTaking a bite out of crime took on a whole new meaning for the iPhone producing giant Apple, finding itself under pressure from the FBI to help with the San Bernardino terrorism investigation. The G-Men want Apple to digitally crack open a seized iPhone found in the possession of the Islamist terrorist murderer Syed Farook. The problem for the feds is that the software installed on the device wipes the phone clean if a passcode attempt is entered more than 10 times unsuccessfully. To change that, apple would have to provide new custom code (even if intended only for this one phone), thus potentially redefining the security capability of the system for all users permanently.

Advocates for cracking the phone have said that Apple should do it, claiming it’s their patriotic duty to help crack the phone, but this oversimplification misses the point that programming can be reverse engineered to allow other phones to be opened the same way. This raises questions about the responsibilities versus the rights of Apple from a product liability standpoint and for the future for information technology providers.

They say all publicity is good publicity, and for Apple an opportunity to use public attention to its advantage is rarely missed. That’s partly why they so quickly came forward, in an orchestrated fashion, with their statements refusing the request.

They gain the perception of solidarity with their customers by looking like they are standing up to government pressure.

The feedback they have received says a lot about the public distrust of government, given the growing concern over terrorism. Is this the healthy fear of government that Jefferson referenced when writing about preferring dangerous freedom, or is it a cynical backlash against an incurably ineffective government that is overstepping our liberties?

The real story here isn’t just about iPhone security or patriotism, it’s about the interplay between government officials and a large multinational corporation. It’s about a society at the intersection of conflicts of technology, privacy and government. It’s illustrative of the pressures building between consumers and citizens, governments and multinational corporations, and the public versus private split in a connected world.

The globalized economy is among the largest growing contradiction of capitalism, one that puts national borders and governments in a race for relevance against forces they can no longer fully control. Both governments and multinational corporations are becoming increasingly defined by exchange driven relationships.

In the best case scenario, multinationals see governments as generating taxes from the business operations within defined borders, a cost of doing business that generates revenue drawn from transactions through their shared spheres of influence. Governments theoretically provide security, stability, a functioning legal framework, important infrastructure, and most of all, access to well established markets. Without a sound marketplace and ready purchasers, multinationals would struggle to connect with the right consumers in a predictable way.

The friction comes not only between countries and companies, but between countries at odds with non-state actors, leaving companies in the middle. Events may arise that see a national government’s agenda directed against a rival state, and in so doing jeopardize the wellbeing of a resident company and its brand. Form the company’s perspective, it may no longer be possible to remain loyal to one country without jeopardizing their business position with others.

Consider that Apple is the most valuable brand in the world. At $536 billion the market cap dominates most other tech companies by a wide margin. With sales of $234 billion, its revenue producing activities are greater than the total national economy of New Zealand, or Slovakia, or Ecuador. Apple operates 481 retail stores across 18 different countries. Their online services are available to consumers in 39 different countries. It employs some 92,000 workers with an additional supply chain that creates economic value employing factory workers, technicians, developers, programmers, producers of every type, across every industry involved in the creation and management of its products. This is a staggering amount of positive human output from vendors and allies of Apple. But all this does not a national company make.

In the brave new world of the global economy, we are familiar with transnationalism, but we relegate its true impact to the subconscious. We are comforted in our belief that an American company is one that has historical ties to America.

But increasingly how can a company remain tied to any one country the way we that individually pledged citizens do? Loyalty is to production, profitability, investor return, and progress as arguably it should be. So why then do we personify companies, and what reason should we have to think they would behave any different than we would when pressured?

In the strictest sense a corporation is a legal person. But that is not at the same as a legal citizen. Well run corporations operate by evaluating economic factors and conduct cost benefit analysis devoid of emotionalism. Can it be said that Apple is an American Company? What does that really mean? Are they exercising rights or responding to governance that does not fully apply?

Is a company’s national identity found in its incorporation? Is its perceived nationality determined by their corporate headquarters geography? What of the employees it hires, when they are comprised from among several different countries? Does a majority of their workforce having citizenship in one country or another make them definitively loyal to one country over another?

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us” said Marshall McLuhan, as such the world that shapes us also defines us. The economics of globalization are inseparable from their influence on culture. The spirit of entrepreneurship has doubtlessly benefitted from interaction with international market opportunities, but what we have gained in innovation, lower costs, and greater prosperity, we have partly lost in identity, community, and fidelity to the intangibles that make us American’s. This question of nationalism, and therefore corporate loyalty is a multidirectional question that affects both companies and citizens.

The story of the Apple iPhone hack isn’t simple. It’s not about whether Apple is patriotic, it’s about whether corporate citizenship is a meaningful concept and whether it applies in a substantive way.

The nostalgia for a simple binary world of American Corporations and foreign corporations is fading. What does a Patriotic American company, grounded in American values and traditions even look like in a globalized world? How can we reasonably expect companies who represent shareholder interests to trust an anti-prosperity equality obsessed government with detailed functionality of products that define a brand?

The people are searching for answers, and the Apple issue is but one of many fissures in our collective understanding of ourselves. The “Make America Great Again” rhetoric, whatever you may think of its standard-bearer, the phrase encapsulates an indisputably brilliant insight reflecting this paradigm. It plays to a unifying concept running counter to meaningless, ever changing policy nuance and word bending. The empty promises of the old politics just won’t do anymore. It reflects a passion for a simpler time, a place we used to call home.

A country that was indivisible, united, and was one nation under God. That was the time of great things, when citizens were called forward to sacrifice their lives to protect their families at home and save the world, preserving a free future.

The greatest generation ran America’s companies transitioning from war production and leading the world, carrying American ideals forward as exemplars of our way of life. Such times have passed and the winds of change may be blowing ever counter to those ideals.

There remains though, deep with many of our people a longing for a connection to the ordered liberty that a limited and healthy government gave us. That government of the people, for the people, and by the people is under attack from many different directions.

Big government redistributionist, (self-describing as progressives) have pushed a perpetual entitlement debt encumbrance that will burden future generations with restrained growth and reduced opportunity. The left’s prescription has been and always will be for the necessity of freedom sacrifices. Excellence, wealth creation, and the risk taking leaders of the economy create naturally occurring inequalities. These (according to their thinking), must be slain to appease an insatiable appetite for fundamental fairness, a self-righteous construct of their own imaginations. As true believers, (even though they know a rising tide lifts all boats) they prefer to run such aground rather than allowing unequal ships to set sail. As Churchill said “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. We must continue to confront and defeat this ideology at home and abroad.

Whether Apple ultimately decides to assist the FBI with its investigation remains to be seen. Whether their decision ends up being right or wrong is becoming harder to know. But what is knowable is that the government that fails to protect us from terrorism fails not because of Apple, but because of its own lack of commitment to serious citizenship and preserving the integrity of our boarders. Apple didn’t give a special visa waiver to the terrorist black widow bride, and it doesn’t continue to allow thousands upon thousands of unknown’s to pour into our country daily.

Our national future may be slipping beyond our control. Empty promises lead to failed institutions. Runaway spending, the entitlement culture, empty pursuits of consumerism, these are the forces proliferating under weakened national identity. Multinational corporate complexity won’t fit into a neatly packaged red white and blue box anymore. Forces of our own creation have changed our people into consumers first, and citizens second, where there are markets first and nations as an afterthought.

One day when our country and all that it stood for is gone, a future generation may discover a time when prosperity was not confused with blatant consumerism. A time where the type of people leading companies and countries were leaders who “more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!”

Judge’s order could expose 10M California schoolkids’ personal info


As reported by Fox News:

A federal judge’s order earlier this month that California public schools turn a trove of personal information on millions of children over to two nonprofits has parents worried and privacy rights advocates outraged.

The nonprofits, who advocate for special needs kids, say they need the info to gauge compliance with federal law, but critics don’t believe Social Security numbers, home addresses and other sensitive records should be included. The ruling by Judge Kimberly Mueller of the Eastern District of California, applies to all students enrolled in Golden State public schools at any time since 2008, a number estimated at 10 million.

“People are confused, worried and angry,” said Bill Ainsworth, a spokesman for the California Department of Education.

The order from Mueller, who sits in Sacramento, stems from a 2012 lawsuit filed by …

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FBI Overreach in Pursuit of Apple Compliance


appleThe Apple-FBI saga playing out in a very public way is a classic case of overreach by a law enforcement agency. The FBI is putting extraordinary (and unprecedented) pressure on Apple following the horrific San Bernadino shootings. The U.S. government has filed a motion in court to compel Apple to re-engineer its operating system so that the FCC can investigate whether the shooter used his iPhone to communicate or plan with other potential co-conspirators.

Forcing Apple to crack open its own code might appeal to some people clamoring for a quick fix for the ever-increasing threat of terrorism in our country. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes and the government’s move is an extraordinary threat to civil liberty. It also won’t solve the larger problem. A backdoor won’t stop terrorism, but it will weaken smartphone security systems with no likelihood of any real public benefit. The public, and policymakers, should support Apple’s public resistance to the FBI’s pressure tactics. The FBI’s proposal is dangerous for at least these four reasons:

It Won’t Stop Terrorism

The FBI wants Apple to build a post-incident forensic investigation tool to unpack what may have happened. But that will not actually deter or prevent terrorism. Terrorists will simply switch to using encrypted phones from other countries.

It Will Open Security Loopholes

If the government is allowed to force Apple to provide a backdoor to its operating system, it will weaken security for all U.S. consumers on a go-forward basis This will not force committed terrorists to think twice, but instead could make Apple’s operating system vulnerable to the hacking of consumer data on a large scale given the way this story is playing out publicly as the hacking community will be awaiting the court decision with baited breath.

It Sets A Terrible International Precedent

If the courts force this technology mandate on Apple, it’s also making this technology available to the rest of the world. That means rogue regimes and dictatorships interested in cracking down on the communications and online interests of its citizens will have access to the same security busting technology as the U.S. government. Limiting security on iPhones could put regular citizens, journalists or freedom fighters, who are often on the frontlines of fights against oppression, in peril.

It Encourages Malware

What the FBI is requesting is as akin to introducing a dangerous virus into Apple’s operating system. The FBI is demanding that Apple create malware by reformulating its software. Backdoor access not only creates access for the government but it creates a flaw that black hat hackers will attempt to exploit. There’s a good chance this will create unintended consequences for Apple and its operating system, which could create a myriad of issues for millions of iPhone users.

Terrorism is a serious problem and one we, as a country, must face head-on. But we need to approach the situation in a way that yields results without creating new vulnerabilities. Knee-jerk reactions, like the one we’re seeing from the FBI are certainly not the answer. They only harm civil liberties and create new problems down the line. We need to hold true to our societal principles, including a right to privacy or we risk handing the terrorists their first real victory by causing us to subvert our values for a gamble that evidence collected after this attack might prevent future attacks.

Tim Sparapani is founder of the consulting firm SPQR Strategies and senior policy counsel for CALinnovates. He was the first director of public policy at Facebook and was senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. He is on Twitter: @TimSparapani.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Apple headed for showdown over San Bernardino shooter’s phone


As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Apple’s refusal to help the FBI access information from the retrieved cell phone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook sets up a long-brewing confrontation between Silicon Valley and members of Congress including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California’s senior senator.

Apple’s rejection of a court order demanding the company unlock the phone represents a pivotal crossroads in a growing debate over digital privacy versus security and is likely to determine whether law enforcement can access data that increasingly is being encrypted.

The outcome of the battle also will have implications not only for the growing use of cell phones in business transactions but for the ability of foreign governments such as China to pry into the personal lives of their citizens, analysts of the dispute said. …

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