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Apple takes a bite out of the forbidden fruit of privacy
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“People have a right to privacy.”

Who said that? Thomas Jefferson? John Hancock? Thomas Paine?

Try Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive.

Cook — like the Founding Fathers and other activists that gave birth to the American notion government and not individuals should be subservient — stands behind his words.

Last week Apple revealed its new operating system for smartphones that will make it impossible for law enforcement to retrieve contacts, videos and photos stored exclusively on a locked device.

This did not sit too well with “the government” that has indicated through faceless bureaucrats that don’t want to be on the record that they are preparing to confront the Silicon Valley tech whizzes over their latest move to protect individuals from the government.

In other words, how dare anyone assume their person and property is secure from government intrusion.

Those nameless bureaucrats speaking from the bowels of the cloak government of course are framing this as a move to defy court authority when a legitimate search warrant based on probable cause is secured.

But let’s be honest. Apple and Google are making their move in response to the massive, universal, and warrantless “farming” of personal data and communications that the so-called “government by the people and for the people” undertook in the name of national security.

If the government hadn’t essentially treated the constitution as if it were toilet paper and then set up secret courts Apple and Google wouldn’t have invested the time and money to take device security to an all new level.

And what is the government going to do? Issue a bureaucratic edict that says all electronic devices must be designed so data stored in them whether they are used on vehicles, in the workplace, at home or on one’s person must be able to be readily hacked or else they are considered contraband? How many years will a person get for possession of a smartphone that when locked no one can retrieve specific data — 10 years, 20 years or perhaps they can be stoned to death in the public square as they would in some countries that our government say we oppose because they run roughshod over individuals rights.

Four individual rights to mean anything they can’t be conditioned by saying you must be guilty of a crime against the state if you don’t willingly and automatically wave your rights under the twisted doctrine of “if you have nothing to hide, it shouldn’t be a problem so therefore you are guilty.”

Besides, the government started toying with the constitution and not the Silicon Valley.

There is little doubt that the government has intruded into the personal business of almost every American without probable cause and without a warrant. It doesn’t make it OK because the government made a massive sweep in search for terrorists in the name of keeping us all safe.

It is akin to the government seizing the contents of all greenhouses in the search for illegal marijuana grows. A willful violation of rights is still a violation even if it is part of a huge vacuum sweep.

Unlike with a warrant, there is no parameter set on what other government agencies the harvested data is shared.

It is rich for the government to infer that Apple is doing something illegal and reckless when they wrote the book on the subject when it comes to personal data theft.

The latest outrage from Washington, D.C., is starting to make Edward Snowden look more like a patriot than a traitor.

Of course, no security is absolute as the Pentagon has discovered with sensitive and critical national security computers.

Even so, the argument is already being made that the new Apple operating system will impede missing person investigations and such given contacts, photos and videos can’t be accessed.

For starters, law enforcement and the government can still secure lists of phone calls made and received from wireless carriers from any phone.

Also if an individual values their privacy higher than the remote chance of being a kidnap victim which is probably greater than the odds of winning a $50 million lottery jackpot, that is their choice to make.

They can keep their phone locked or — if they want to let the government have their way in case they are kidnapped — they can keep it unlocked.

The choice should be reserved for individuals and not the government.

Patrick Henry is credited with uttering the words, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

He didn’t say “Give me liberty unless the government thinks they need to compromise liberty because they don’t like people who may try and undermine the government.”

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.