On Tuesday there was a congressional hearing regarding encryption. I didn’t watch it because I had better shit to do. But I’ve been reading through some of the highlights and the hearing was like most hearings. A handful of competent individuals were brought in to testify in front of a group of clueless idiots who are somehow allowed to pass policies. What was especially funny to me was a comment made by the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), James Comey (which should really be spelled James Commie):
When Florida Congressman Ted Deutch asked Comey if the potential repercussions of such a back door falling into the wrongs hands were of valid concern, Comey responded by posing a hypothetical situation in which Apple’s own engineers were kidnapped.
“Slippery slope arguments are always attractive, but I suppose you could say, ‘Well, Apple’s engineers have this in their head, what if they’re kidnapped and forced to write software?'” Comey said before the committee. “That’s where the judge has to sort this out, between good lawyers on both sides making all reasonable arguments.”
Comey likely made the comment to highlight how Apple is capable of creating a back door to break the iPhone’s encryption, a fact the company has admitted.
Comey should have said, “Well, Apple’s engineers have this in their head, what will happen when my agency kidnaps them and forces them to write the backdoor?” Because that’s exactly what his agency is trying to accomplish in the San Bernardino case. The FBI wants the court to order Apple to write a custom version of iOS that would bypass several security features and brute force the encryption key. If the court does issue such an order and Apple doesn’t obey some federal goons will kidnap members of Apple (likely Tim Cook). Of course, the FBI couches its criminal activities in euphemisms such as “arrest” to make them appear legitimate.
But what would happen? As it turns out, not much. Kidnapping one of Apple’s engineers wouldn’t give access to the company’s software signing key. Without that key any software the engineer was forced to write wouldn’t load onto an iOS device.