Episode 134 – Featuring Ed Black (Computer and Communications Industry Association)

Battle Lines Drawn:  What the Furor Over the San Bernardino Shooter’s IPhone Means For You

At first glance, the headlines read like the card from a boxing pay-per-view event, or the next WrestleMania:

Apple Vs. The FBI

Privacy Vs. National Security

Private Enterprise Vs. The Federal Government

To many, these battles, especially the last two, have been in place for years, if not decades.   But for those of us looking at the current headlines, (OK….the ones that DON’T involve Donald, Hillary, et al), these can be traced to the events of December 2, 2015.

On that day, two shooters attached the annual holiday party for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, where one of them had worked.   In total, 14 people (and the two shooters) were killed and 22 others injured in one of worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

Soon after, more information about the shooters became public, most importantly the revelation of their infatuation with extremist terrorist organizations, a link that instantly transformed the incident into what President Obama declared an “act of terror”, the worst such attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Observers had noted that they frequently talked with each other about pulling off such attacks. But when reports emerged that they were purportedly in touch with other terrorists, including ones that were already targets of U.S. investigation, that’s when things were taken to the next level.

While both of the shooters’ personal phones were destroyed in their fatal shootout with police, one of their work phones, an Apple IPhone 5c, was discovered, completely intact.  FBI investigators had attempted to unlock the phone to recover potentially critical information about who they talked to, when, and what, if any bigger plans may be in place.  When they were unable to do so, due to the phone’s advanced security features, they asked Apple to grant access.  When Apple declined, due to not wanting to undermine the security features of their products and customers, the FBI took the matter to court.

The case has set off a firestorm of controversy across the country, setting in place the battle lines noted above in the arena of public perception. The people who feel that Apple should absolutely allow access to this one particular phone, in order to possibly prevent further San Bernardino shootings (or worse) down the road can argue their side just as fervently as the ones who see Apple’s doing so as a slippery slope that would not only blur the lines of just what IS the right circumstance for the tech giant to unlock one of its own devices, but also allow hackers from around the world to see that yes, this CAN be done.   (And who KNOWS where that could lead?)

Which begs the critical question:  Which side is right?

On this edition of “The Raja Show”, Raja, himself the CEO and founder of a tech firm, will discuss the controversy from his perspective, and provide insights into the pressure that Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is facing in his position.   Plus, we’ll talk with Ed Black, the President and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association in Washington D.C., and one of the country’s leading experts when it comes to the role that technology plays in our society, as well as the challenges the industry faces in its interaction with government.  Ed will discuss the controversy from the industry’s perspective, and the ramifications facing Apple and other tech companies down the road pending the outcome of the case.

There are still more questions than answers facing Apple and the FBI in the case, and the more basic these questions seem, the more complex the answers actually are.    Raja and Ed Black will do their part to shed some light on the situation on this show.