21 thoughts on “Yediot Achronot: Israeli Tech Company is ‘Outside Source’ Offering to Hack Terrorist’s iPhone for FBI – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. At the risk of being booed, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

    We live in houses, with doors, windows and locks. Most of the time they give us privacy and security. Sometimes bad guys figure out how to break in. Sometimes the guy living there is bad and a judge will order a search warrant, and if the owner is unwilling or unable to allow it, the police will hire a locksmith to break the lock. Nothing is 100% airtight and break-in proof. No different than breaking into an IPhone.
    We don’t hear from the Master Lock Co whining about locksmiths who break into their locks, nor from shrieking privacy advocates protesting about the violation of house privacy.

    What is this religion that enshrines absolute and inviolate right to privacy? Did God herself command that right? Right to privacy is just an idea that we came up with, and it has its limits.

    1. @ Yehuda: As usual your analogy is less than air-tight. Breaking into one individual home is far, far differdent than being able to hack the phones of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, which the FBI or anybody else would be able to do once the iPhone is hacked.

      Democracy and privacy rights are not a “religion.” A religion is the ultra-nationalist state you live in. Democratic rights are a system of government that works pretty well when everyone follows the rules. The right to privacy is not an “idea.” It is inscribed in the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court rulings. Unlike your country, we accord these institutions & precedents tremendous respect. It’s how we govern our nation. A foundation of the republic.

      It’s too bad you’re so tone deaf in understanding these bedrock principles of liberal democracy. But it’s not surprising.

      1. @Richard “Democratic rights are a system of government that works pretty well when everyone follows the rules. ”

        Seriously?? We are talking about a terrorist. Not exactly someone who “follows the rules.”

        Great analogy Yehuda!

        Not sure how the Israelis came out bad out of this when Americans are those who request the service. Go figure!

          1. @ Jack Cohen: Stop whining, “Jack.” It’s unbecoming.

            This is precisely the sort of comment that violates the comment rules. Comments must have substance and a political point.

        1. @ Jack Cohen: That’s precisely the point. A nation of laws which upholds the rule of law doesn’t treat terrorists differently than other criminals or even other citizens. Everyone is accorded the same rights & you are innocent till proven guilty, no matter how heinous the crime. Again, this is democracy, which you appear not to understand.

          You follow the rules especially in cases in which criminals don’t because you are upholding higher values than justice for one individual criminal.

  2. Cellebrite (or any professional hacker – whether inside or outside the FBI) is the rather benign option here.

    The less benign option is that the FBI pressured workers (current or former) or contractors to cooperate going around Apple mgmt. And pressure could come in so many different forms (e.g. threats to deport illegal parents, helping/hindering relatives of workers or workers themselves involved in different criminal cases, etc. etc.).

  3. “If true, this would be yet another example of Israel’s military-intelligence technology being used to penetrate the privacy of terrorists and average citizens world-wide.”

    The San Bernadino terrorists are both dead, and a dead man has no ‘privacy’.

  4. Would you care to explain why a terrorist should be privileged to ‘privacy.’ A terrorist, be definition, has an aim which ligitimizes killing innocent people. Why should such individuals, or groups, be entitled to privacy, when ‘violating’ their privacy could very well save innocent lives?

    1. @ James Cooper: Last I checked terrorists and average civilians were all human beings. As such, we accord even criminals rights to privacy. Now if you wish to live in a totalitarian state in which the state is the only entity with rights & citizens have none, be my guest. But that’s not the USA. So yes, criminals do have a right to privacy–at least until it’s proven that they’ve committed a crime.

      But that’s not the main problem with your view. In truth, once Apple breaks encryption in order to expose criminal behavior anyone will able to break the phones of average citizens or even corporate executives or high tech engineers–each of whom expect & need privacy for different reasons. So we have to weigh the necessity of catching criminals with the rights of average citizens, which are very important in a democracy.

      1. Thank you, Richard, for your response. I’m just curious about one item: Had your Mom, Dad, sister, brother, wife, child, nephew or niece been blown to smithereens by such a terrorist, and the way to apprehend the terrorists and his buddies, (to prevent more attacks) was to crack the phone’s code, would you still oppose it?
        Thank you again.

        1. I can’t speak for Richard, but I for one would still oppose it, even if it involved a family member.

          Living in a democracy where all citizens have rights comes with a cost. That cost is that you have to treat everyone the same way.

          As soon as the government can say “He’s a terrorist, he has no rights”, then there’s nothing to stop the government saying the same thing about you (personally). Sure, it’s unlikely if you haven’t done anything to draw notice to yourself, but what about if you object to some political decision or military action? If it helps the government to remove you from circulation, they can just brand you a terrorist and make you disappear without a lawyer, trial or even evidence.

          Plus… Where do you draw the line? Do Peadophiles lose their rights too? Rapists? Drug dealers? How about tax dodgers? What about when you push someone and they accuse you of assault? Do you lose your rights then?

          The only way it can work is to say everyone has rights and they must be observed at all times.

        2. @James Cooper: this isn’t remotely the case in this situation. The FBI has all the data it needs in this case. It is missing 20 minutes of cellphone data, which it seeks to ascertain who they might’ve called during that period.

          Your dramatic rendition doesn’t remotely correspond to the facts of this case.

  5. @Richard
    Of course no analogy is perfect, but the house analogy is a pretty good one. The existence of tools that locksmiths use allows the break-in of millions of homes– but only by the people with the motives and means to do so. Not “anybody”. Yes, this includes criminals and governments. With smartphones its only a matter of scale, the principle is the same.
    As far as right to privacy, evidently US courts disagree with your interpretation of the constitution that only a convicted criminal loses his right to privacy. Suspects do as well. They may have their property searched and their computers hacked.
    As far as religion, yes it is, although its not a theistic religion. If one holds a principle so inviolate even if logic dictates in a particular circumstance the principle doesn’t apply, then that is a religion. Like the religion of the National Rifle Association.
    An interesting side question is whether you consider Assange or Snowden to be crominals or heroes? Or is hacking only a crime when it is done by somebody who doesn’t share YOUR agenda, like government trying to prosecute terrorists.

    1. @ Yehuda: Once again, no cigar I’m afraid. Locksmiths tools must be used on individual houses one at a time. One person can’t break into a million homes simultaneously. But one person or a small group of people may do that when they break the encryption of the iPhone.

      Suspects do not lose their right to privacy. In fact, they retain that right. It may only be infringed under limited circumstances and with the permission of a judge, who may limit the reach of prosecutorial investigation.

      Democracy is not a principle in which “logic does not apply” & I find this view of yours not only stupid, but offensive. Further, comparing it the NRA is, well, loony.

      So you’re done in this thread. Move on.

      I’ve pronounced my views of Snowden here numerous times. Please don’t ask questions you can easily answer yourself.

      Snowden is advocating the rights of millions of citizens. The government is advocating the right of the State to invade the privacy of these millions. They have opposite goals.

    2. Another problem with the analogy is that it’s treating the phone as a container, rather than data.

      As an example, there exist techniques using a deck of cards that (while slow) provide the same level of encryption as that used in many modern devices. A well-known example is the Solitaire Encryption Algorithm: https://www.schneier.com/cryptography/solitaire/

      So, if I have some private data and encrypt it using a deck of cards, then write the result on a piece of paper, the authorities have the right to enter my house (with a warrant) and read the paper. That doesn’t mean anyone has to try and decrypt the information stored there.

      The FBI will already have imaged the phone, and will have a copy of all the data in storage. They just can’t decrypt it without a key.

      Nobody has stopped them looking (“entering the house and poking around”), so the situation is equivalent

  6. The trouble is that people living in a state that has security problems caused by its own oppression of others start to take a certain measure of control for granted and subsequently suggest that such practices are normal for a democracy. In this way a political sore starts to infect much more than the body on which it came about. And this holds particularly for Israel.

    As Michael Neumann wrote about Israel’s infectious example in general:

    “It is this ability to command respect despite the most public outrages against humanity that makes Israel so exceptionally bad. Not that it needs to be any worse than ‘the others’: that would be more than bad enough. But Israel does not only commit its crimes; it also legitimates them.

    That is not a matter of abstract moral argument, but of political acceptance and respectability. As the world slowly tries to emerge from barbarism–for instance, through the human rights movements for which Israel has such contempt– Israel mockingly drags it back …”


    (I recommend Neumann’s article particularly to Yehuda who wanted to know why Israel was singled out for criticism)

  7. @Arie– since Richard has prohibited me from further commenting on this thread, a discussion of the claims of the article will have to continue elsewhere.

  8. “And nothing could be more inappropriate than the complaints that Israel is being ‘held to a higher standard’. It is not being held to one; it aggressively and insolently appropriates it. It plants its flag on some cultural and moral summit.” (Michael Neumann)


    Listen to what then Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, said at the occasion of Israel’s sixtieth birthday:

    “Each and every day when I walk the halls and corridors of the U.N… I walk with my head held up high because I know I represent a country that is far better than most other members of the United Nations. A country that has contributed, is contributing, and will continue to contribute to the world more than most other member states, a country that is contributing not just to itself and the Jewish people but to mankind and humanity in a huge way, a country that is making deserts bloom all over the world with its agriculture, that is making limbs move  each and every day in the remotest corners of the world with its medicine, that is making the world a better place each and every day with its innovations and its patents, and its research, and its science and technology and indeed a country that is making the world each and every day a richer place with its art and with its culture…. “

  9. “It is this ability to command respect despite the most public outrages against humanity that makes Israel so exceptionally bad.” (Neumann)

    And how could hasbara be so amazingly successful particularly in the US? I hope that this film will contribute to my understanding: http://www.occupationmovie.com/ ( title: “The occupation of the American Mind”)

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