Speaking at the South by Southwest festival in Texas, Obama said he could not comment on the legal case in which the FBI is trying to force Apple Inc. to allow access to an iPhone linked to San Bernardino, California, shooter Rizwan Farook.
But he made clear that, despite his commitment to Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, a balance was needed to allow some intrusion when needed.
“The question we now have to ask is: If technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there is no key, there’s no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer, how do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?” he said.
“What mechanisms do we have available to even do simple things like tax enforcement because if in fact you can’t crack that at all, government can’t get in, then everybody is walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket.”
I agree with him that there needs to be a balance. And if due process is properly rendered, I don’t have a problem with the government accessing private property whether it be a safe, house, car, or computer. The problem that we all have with mandating a government back door to our technology is that we do not trust the government to follow the 4th Amendment before accessing it.
At least with our homes we have some reasonable ways to know whether or not a government agent has entered it. With our technology, however, they could enter our computers, phones, tablets, etc., take whatever they want, and we would never know unless they decided to tell us. And there have been too many instances of that happening for the American people to feel comfortable giving the government even more tools to access our technology.
Perhaps if the government had behaved more responsibly with our civil liberties to date, this wouldn’t be much of an issue.