The more highly technical the basis of a story, the more likely it is that some key detail will get jacked up by a journalist trying to translate it for the public. Call it Panzer’s Law.
It’s only natural, especially when it comes to stories about security and privacy, such as Apple vs. the FBI. There are a myriad of complex technical mechanics at play, fiercely difficult Gordian Knots of encryption and hardware solutions to unravel and a number of previous interactions between Apple and the government that have set one precedent or another.
But no matter how hard it is, it’s important to get this stuff right. The press has the ability not only to act as a translator but also as an obfuscator. If they get it and they’re able to deliver that information clearly and with proper perspective, the conversation is elevated, the public is informed and sometimes it even alters the course of policy-making for the better.
When it comes to the court order from the FBI to Apple, compelling it to help it crack a passcode, there is one important distinction that I’ve been seeing conflated.
Specifically, I keep seeing reports that Apple has unlocked “70 iPhones” for the government. And those reports argue that Apple is now refusing to do for the FBI what it has done many times before. This meme is completely inaccurate at best, and dangerous at worst.
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