Video: John Oliver's 'Last Week Tonight' sides with Apple in encryption debate

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2016
On the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver summarized the ongoing battle between Apple and the FBI over encryption, ultimately backing Apple's position on the matter.




Oliver first explained both the nature of encryption, and why U.S. government agencies would want a backdoor, such as the iOS passcode limit tool demanded by the FBI. Key to this is the idea that strong encryption is causing the Internet to "go dark," putting some communications beyond the reach of law enforcement and spy agencies, even when a legitimate warrant is issued.

The comedian attempted to undermine the government's position in a number of ways, for instance referring to the "Clipper Chip" proposed in the 1990s. That might have theoretically allowed agencies to access a computer's data when needed while otherwise leaving it secure, but a hacker, Matt Blaze, demonstrated how to disable the technology.



Oliver also noted that there are now a wide number of encrypted messaging apps, many of which are by developers outside U.S. jurisdiction, and that Apple's platforms are constantly under attack by hackers in a situation which could be made worse if its security is deliberately weakened.

He also attacked the legal underpinnings of the FBI's case, and noted the possibility of it setting precedent not just in the U.S. but overseas in places like Russia and China, where governments regularly intrude into private data to silence dissent.

The segment concluded with a spoof of Apple's TV ads for the iPhone 6s, arguing that the company has enough trouble keeping up with basic problems -- like battery life -- without bringing security into the picture.

Apple and the Department of Justice are due to attend a court hearing on March 22, when the order asking Apple to help unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook will be reviewed.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    If the FBI succeeds, then we'll simply need to rely on companies outside the US to insure our privacy and security. That would be so ironic.
    SpamSandwichbaconstangcincymaccaliadonissmulymfcornchipmoreck
  • Reply 2 of 31
    I believe the Latin term is: BFD.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,180member
    I believe the Latin term is: BFD.
    We also have a saying in English:  GTFO
    edited March 2016 baconstangdmdevrob53rogue cheddarcornchipmoreck
  • Reply 4 of 31
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,588member
    You can expect Apple -- and everyone else in the business -- to shift to security on an app-by-app basis if the courts should somehow let us down. And then the FBI (et al) will find themselves right back to square one, only with a million individual app developers (most of whom are outside the US) versus one patriotic, wants-to-do-the-right-thing US company. Good luck with that strategy, boys.
    stompylatifbpadonissmujony0aaron sorensonfastasleepcornchip
  • Reply 5 of 31
    jamukjamuk Posts: 1member
    Scenario:  Apple changes the firmware and finds the guy used Telegram for messaging.  

    Just sayin'
    potatoleeksoupadonissmujony0cornchipmoreck
  • Reply 6 of 31
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,453member
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't the FBI go to the phone company and at the very least, get the metadata on any phone calls and any texts made via the phone line?  Isn't this really about the FBI trying to both set precedent and establishing that it should have unlimited power?   The FBI acts like the only way they can get any information at all is via this phone.   Why don't they instead track how this guy got all the weapons?  

    Let's say the FBI could get into the phone and they find out he spoke with someone who might be a terrorist in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran.   So what?   What would the FBI do with that information other than possibly putting that person on a "do not fly" list?   Besides, if there is someone like that, wouldn't be under the jurisdiction of the CIA and not the FBI?

    My bet is that the NSA already knows about any communication this guy already made.   But they don't share because anything the FBI does is subject to court review during a lawsuit.   If the NSA and FBI work together, then NSA's policy and techniques would also be subject to court review during a lawsuit. 

    There's one out for Apple, since the FBI insists this is just a "one-off".   Apple goes ahead and creates the version of the OS that won't wipe the phone after 10 password attempts, but they build it with a 72-hour self destruct.   (Although I don't know how you get that new OS onto the phone without entering a password first anyway).   And then Apple destroys all copies of the code.   

    Of course, it's not a one-off.  The FBI has admitted they would use it in other cases and one of the NYC DAs says he's got something like 172 phones he wants cracked.  If Apple and other companies did provide these back doors, it would become nothing but a crutch for the police and other agencies that they would use instead of doing real police work.    And if this were provided to the FBI and other agencies, criminals and terrorists aren't stupid - they would just start using burner phones if they're not using them already.    And all of us would be more subject to hackers and security invasions. 

    This is just another example of the Government using fear to make us give up our freedoms.  And people are so illogical that they buy into it.   One death from a terrorist and people are willing to spend $ billions to stop another.   Tens of thousands of deaths a year from guns and no one gives a damn.   Not to mention deaths from drunk drivers, ladder falls, slips in bathtubs, drug and alcohol abuse and countless other things that each contribute more deaths than terrorism in the U.S.
    manfred zorncincymacadonissmujony0badmonkcornchip
  • Reply 7 of 31
    ceek74ceek74 Posts: 324member
    zoetmb said:
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't the FBI go to the phone company and at the very least, get the metadata on any phone calls and any texts made via the phone line?  Isn't this really about the FBI trying to both set precedent and establishing that it should have unlimited power?   The FBI acts like the only way they can get any information at all is via this phone.   Why don't they instead track how this guy got all the weapons?  

    Let's say the FBI could get into the phone and they find out he spoke with someone who might be a terrorist in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran.   So what?   What would the FBI do with that information other than possibly putting that person on a "do not fly" list?   Besides, if there is someone like that, wouldn't be under the jurisdiction of the CIA and not the FBI?

    My bet is that the NSA already knows about any communication this guy already made.   But they don't share because anything the FBI does is subject to court review during a lawsuit.   If the NSA and FBI work together, then NSA's policy and techniques would also be subject to court review during a lawsuit. 

    There's one out for Apple, since the FBI insists this is just a "one-off".   Apple goes ahead and creates the version of the OS that won't wipe the phone after 10 password attempts, but they build it with a 72-hour self destruct.   (Although I don't know how you get that new OS onto the phone without entering a password first anyway).   And then Apple destroys all copies of the code.   

    Of course, it's not a one-off.  The FBI has admitted they would use it in other cases and one of the NYC DAs says he's got something like 172 phones he wants cracked.  If Apple and other companies did provide these back doors, it would become nothing but a crutch for the police and other agencies that they would use instead of doing real police work.    And if this were provided to the FBI and other agencies, criminals and terrorists aren't stupid - they would just start using burner phones if they're not using them already.    And all of us would be more subject to hackers and security invasions. 

    This is just another example of the Government using fear to make us give up our freedoms.  And people are so illogical that they buy into it.   One death from a terrorist and people are willing to spend $ billions to stop another.   Tens of thousands of deaths a year from guns and no one gives a damn.   Not to mention deaths from drunk drivers, ladder falls, slips in bathtubs, drug and alcohol abuse and countless other things that each contribute more deaths than terrorism in the U.S.
    The FBI already has all of the metadata associated with the subject phone, which was one of the first things they obtained.  There is nothing of import in the metadata connecting it to anything else.  The FBI is implying that there might be data on the phone that is encrypted which somehow managed to avoid their metadata radar.  The encrypted iPhone might also have the winning Powerball numbers for the next 2 years, along with the cure for cancer and an all-access pass to Area 51.
    calijdgazdementuschikanbadmonk
  • Reply 8 of 31
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,602member
    zoetmb said:
    One death from a terrorist and people are willing to spend $ billions to stop another.   Tens of thousands of deaths a year from guns and no one gives a damn.   Not to mention deaths from drunk drivers, ladder falls, slips in bathtubs, drug and alcohol abuse and countless other things that each contribute more deaths than terrorism in the U.S.
    Fear is the most potent political currency, and terrorism is the perfect context from which to cultivate fear. Thousands of unnecessary road and gun deaths is just collateral damage of the unfettered pursuit of liberty and happiness. Don't you dare mess with that!
    SpamSandwichmanfred zornauxiocincymaccalirob53adonissmujony0cornchip
  • Reply 9 of 31
    Oliver made the best argument possible in favor of Apple, but I am still going to support the rule of law (after fifty years in the ACLU). If the courts say  "do it," then Apple should do it.
    macky the macky
  • Reply 10 of 31
    While I understand the frustration the FBI is facing, such actions cannot be condoned. This is not about cell phones. This is about basic civil liberties. I completely understand that when people are at liberty to do something, then there is risk. They might get out of control.... They might use this liberty to harm others. However, if a position were adopted that sought to curb these liberties, then people would be controlled. This would certainly make the job of the FBI or local police force easier. However, in elevating safety to the place of primary value, then we lose that which we value even more - liberty. In opting for security, we are opting to give up freedom of movement, freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom of action. We have already given up too much of this due to terrorists and terrorism. Giving up liberty to gain safety means we gain nothing and lose a lot. We have already lost too much. I stand with Apple on this. The implications are far beyond this particular case. They are right in not complying. It is their duty to society to not comply.
    jdgazjony0cornchip
  • Reply 11 of 31
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,997member
    thh21044 said:
    Oliver made the best argument possible in favor of Apple, but I am still going to support the rule of law (after fifty years in the ACLU). If the courts say  "do it," then Apple should do it.
    Then obviously you missed his point about how, if you force one company to "do it", a dozen more which "don't do it" will spring up to fill the need/grab the profit.  With many outside of any US jurisdiction.  It's a war which cannot be won.
    caliadonissmujony0macky the macky
  • Reply 12 of 31
    CMA102DLCMA102DL Posts: 121member
    linty grandma, bwahahahaha
  • Reply 13 of 31
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    thh21044 said:
    Oliver made the best argument possible in favor of Apple, but I am still going to support the rule of law (after fifty years in the ACLU). If the courts say  "do it," then Apple should do it.
    Oh God I thought we were done with the one-post morons....

    There is no law that says Apple "do it". Get outta here I can't stand government puppets who can't think for themselves. I bet you have a clean record and you're just a perfect cupcake aren't cha?
    adonissmujony0macky the mackycornchip
  • Reply 14 of 31
    This is really even worse that what you have all noted. This is far beyond simple demand for an existing KEY, this is demand for the creation of a new OS and key that doesnt exist today. This is a pretty good summary: http://richarddogood.blogspot.com/2016/03/fbi-vs-apple.html
    adonissmucornchip
  • Reply 15 of 31
    dmdevdmdev Posts: 31member
    zoetmb said:
    There's one out for Apple, since the FBI insists this is just a "one-off".   Apple goes ahead and creates the version of the OS that won't wipe the phone after 10 password attempts, but they build it with a 72-hour self destruct.   (Although I don't know how you get that new OS onto the phone without entering a password first anyway).   And then Apple destroys all copies of the code.   
    You can't build a self-destruct into software. As a binary image that will need to be installed, it can be copied elsewhere, which makes susceptible to modifications that can extend or disable the self destruct. And when the rest of the world knows this effort is about to happen, Apple will be the target of attacks that will seek to steal the code as it is written. Or perhaps Apple employees or their families will be susceptible to kidnapping and ransom attempts. As an engineer I'd say no thank you -- you may go ahead and fire me.
    adonissmu
  • Reply 16 of 31
    dmdevdmdev Posts: 31member
    I think Apple software engineers should preemptively announce that they'll all strike if the company is compelled to create this software. They can't be thrown in jail for not wanting to cooperate. Then it would be a precedent that all software companies can threaten when governments attempt to take away our rights.
  • Reply 17 of 31
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,042member
    dmdev said:
    zoetmb said:
    There's one out for Apple, since the FBI insists this is just a "one-off".   Apple goes ahead and creates the version of the OS that won't wipe the phone after 10 password attempts, but they build it with a 72-hour self destruct.   (Although I don't know how you get that new OS onto the phone without entering a password first anyway).   And then Apple destroys all copies of the code.   
    You can't build a self-destruct into software. As a binary image that will need to be installed, it can be copied elsewhere, which makes susceptible to modifications that can extend or disable the self destruct. And when the rest of the world knows this effort is about to happen, Apple will be the target of attacks that will seek to steal the code as it is written. Or perhaps Apple employees or their families will be susceptible to kidnapping and ransom attempts. As an engineer I'd say no thank you -- you may go ahead and fire me.
    @dmdev, I agree with you and @zoetmb's comment shows how people with a little technical understanding think anything is possible. These people much watch a lot of TV, including the old episodes of NCIS, where they could hack into any system in 5 seconds. At least NCIS is finally trying to be a little more realistic and saying there's some things that can't be broken. Now if we could just get all those politicians, FBI agents, and judges to take 5 minutes and do some research with someone who's actually technically qualified to make technical statements and maybe, like Lindsey Graham actually did in the broadcast, these people will finally understand what's possible, what's not and what the implications actually are. The problem, however, is that these people refuse to let anyone else take and have the attention span of a 2 year old. I don't know why AI didn't include a link to the broadcast so here it is,  Note: as usual, John Oliver uses course language and several sexual innuendos but overall what he says is spot on. Even the last video about Apple geniuses isn't far from the truth. Apple, like all computer companies, is on the lip of a volcano. 
    dmdevSpamSandwichjony0adonissmu
  • Reply 18 of 31
    koopkoop Posts: 337member
    yeah that ending fake ad was really great.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,448member
    koop said:
    yeah that ending fake ad was really great.
    I agree. He summarized everything about Apple perfectly ...
  • Reply 20 of 31
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,180member
    thh21044 said:
    Oliver made the best argument possible in favor of Apple, but I am still going to support the rule of law (after fifty years in the ACLU). If the courts say  "do it," then Apple should do it.
    The FBI doesn't create our laws, plus Apple has every right to contest this up to the Supreme Court. What exactly were you doing at the ACLU if you weren't there protecting the rights of Americans?
    dementuschikanjony0
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