February 29, 2016—Dr. Ron Paul used his column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity to discuss the importance of privacy in the age of the War on Terror.
“The FBI tells us that its demand for a back door into the iPhone is all about fighting terrorism,” Ron Paul explains. The FBI also claims that the access to the encrypted iPhone will give their investigation into the December San Bernardino attack a boost. Unfortunately, Ron Paul writes, the FBI “had long sought a way to break Apple’s iPhone encryption and, like 9/11 and the PATRIOT Act, a mass murder provided just the pretext needed.”
The former congressman explains that when it comes to the War on Terror, the narrative is always the same. To stay protected from terrorism, government officials and hawks repeat with a straight face, we must give up on some of our liberties. But to Paul, that’s nothing but an excuse since “government spying on us has not prevented one terrorist attack.”
“Apple has so far stood up to a federal government’s demand that it force its employees to write a computer program to break into its own product. No doubt Apple CEO Tim Cook understands the damage it would do to his company for the world to know that the US government has a key to supposedly secure iPhones. But the principles at stake are even higher. We have a fundamental right to privacy. We have a fundamental right to go about our daily life without the threat of government surveillance of our activities.
We are not East Germany. (emphasis mine)”
Apple’s new iPhone encryption system, Paul explains in his column, was partly developed as a responde to Edward Snowden’s revelations. When the former NSA contractor blew the whistle on NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance programs, the “federal government was caught breaking the law but instead of ending its illegal spying is demanding that private companies make it easier for it to continue.”
As Congress vows to join the fight against Apple, Ron Paul reminds us that a stand against privacy is a stand against all Americans.
“Members are rushing to set up yet another governmental commission to study how our privacy can be violated for false promises of security. Of course they won’t put it that way, but we can be sure that will be the result. Some in Congress are seeking to pass legislation regulating how companies can or cannot encrypt their products. This will suppress the development of new technology and will have a chilling effect on our right to be protected from an intrusive government. Any legislation Congress writes limiting encryption will likely be unconstitutional, but unfortunately Congress seldom heeds the Constitution anyway.
When FBI Director James Comey demanded a back door into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, he promised that it was only for this one, extraordinary situation. ‘The San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message,’ he said in a statement last week. Testifying before Congress just days later, however, he quickly changed course, telling the Members of the House Intelligence Committee that the court order and Apple’s appeals, ‘will be instructive for other courts.’ Does anyone really believe this will not be considered a precedent-setting case? Does anyone really believe the government will not use this technology again and again, with lower and lower thresholds?
According to press reports, Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has 175 iPhones with passcodes that the City of New York wants to access. We can be sure that is only the beginning.”
Paul believes that standing in support of Apple’s refusal to give in to the FBI’s demand is the right thing to do. Joining forces to put privacy—an safety—first, is part of the fight for liberty. “If the people lead,” Paul closed his column, “the leaders will follow.”
Are you willing to give up on your privacy when government surveillance hasn’t done anything to keep you safe? Share your thoughts with us!