Apple’s Principled Stand

On Tuesday evening, a magistrate judge at a United States District Court in California issued an order compelling Apple to assist FBI agents in breaking into the phone used by one of the suspected shooters involved in the San Bernardino shootings in December 2015. Apple has formally objected to the order, explaining in a public letter to customers over Tim Cook’s signature why it feels this would be a dangerous step. Reactions to the situation have been somewhat predictable, with those on both sides adopting familiar positions. In reality, the situation is fairly nuanced, and that nuance is largely being missed.

Apple’s stance on encryption is clear

The current case is certainly not the first glimpse we’ve had into Apple’s stance on privacy, security, or even technical issues such as encryption. Since taking over as Apple CEO, Tim Cook has made privacy and security major elements of Apple’s positioning and differentiation and he’s hammered these themes repeatedly, including in a previous letter to customers on privacy specifically. On encryption, Tim Cook has been one of the most vocal and strident opponents to the idea that governments should have backdoors to bypass encryption and gain access to devices. The reason for that stance, in turn, is clear: giving one entity a backdoor potentially gives any entity similar access, should the tools involved fall into the wrong hands. It also sets a precedent in which Apple might feel obligated to provide any government around the world the same tools which it provides to one government or to begin to pick and choose which governments and jurisdictions’ requests it will honor, which is itself a slippery slope.

This case isn’t about encryption per se

What’s tricky is this case isn’t about encryption per se. Tim Cook seeks to tie the FBI’s request to the broader issue of encryption by painting both with the “government backdoor” brush. However, this case is actually about brute forcing a passcode and not about encryption itself. As others have written, this wouldn’t even be possible on newer devices which include the Touch ID sensor and the associated Secure Enclave and the encryption protections that go with them. But this case concerns an iPhone 5C which doesn’t have those elements. However, what ties encryption and this case together is that, in both cases, governments want Apple to create software that lets law enforcement circumvent security protections on these devices, hence the “backdoor” phrase. It’s arguably nitpicking to debate whether the backdoor is permanently left open or whether law enforcement needs Apple to unlock it every time it’s used.

An order for access to a specific device

The FBI has, however, asked specifically for Apple to assist it in accessing a single device, rather than to provide a blanket backdoor. Both the Bureau and the White House have suggested this negates Apple’s claims that this approach would be applicable to any device at any time. The order even provides for Apple to keep the device in question on its premises while it loads the software and offers remote access to the FBI’s investigators for the purpose of brute forcing the password. In a technical sense, this would appear to make it impossible for the FBI to take the software to hack into this one device and apply it to others, at least without a new warrant.

An issue of precedents

However, the biggest single problem with what Apple is being asked to do in this case is the precedent it sets, both from a strict legal perspective and otherwise. From a legal perspective, once Apple is compelled to provide the FBI with the means to access information on this one device, the precedent will permit it to be compelled to do so again. That applies not just to the technical specifics of this case, but the legal structure under which Apple is being compelled to assist – i.e. creating new software (malware, effectively) which can bypass security protections built into a device. Although this order involves a one-off, after-the-fact solution, it also creates the risk Apple might be compelled to design its standard software in such a way as to make this possible or easier on other devices going forward. Hence, this is the beginning of a slippery slope that could easily lead to just the kind of outcomes Apple is trying to avoid with encryption, even though this case is technically about something else.

Unappealing test case

One of the biggest challenges with this particular case is the specifics make it very unappealing for any other tech company to jump to Apple’s defense. In a case where a reporter was protecting a whistleblower, for example, it might be far easier to garner support from the public for defending her right to privacy and security. I’ve seen quite a few people suggest today the FBI (which favors encryption backdoors) has likely chosen this case as a precedent setter precisely because it’s so hard to argue for the rights of the subject in the case. Although big tech companies have made some supportive comments about encryption over the past year, including a joint letter to President Obama last June, none of them have yet forcefully come to Apple’s defense in this particular case. I suspect that’s a reflection both of their weaker commitment to the general cause and their queasiness about engaging with this specific case.

A principled stand

The fact this case is so unappealing is precisely what makes Apple’s stand a principled one. A stand based solely on the optics of a particular case wouldn’t be worth much at all, but a stand on such a politically charged case shows just how serious Apple is about this issue. Cook makes clear in the letter that Apple shares the government’s aims in bringing terrorists to justice, so this is entirely about the means and not the ends. And Apple’s stance is not just about encryption, but about the inherent privacy and security of Apple’s devices. Apple’s argument is that ordinary people want devices that come with the kind of privacy and security guarantee Apple offers baked in, not because they have any nefarious intent, but simply because they want to protect their private and sensitive information. Tim Cook has argued that terrorists and criminals who want to keep their information out of the hands of law enforcement will always find ways to do so. That argument is backed up by a recent Harvard study on the easy availability of encrypted communication solutions.

The courts, and the court of public opinion

This whole issue is about a court order and ultimately judges will determine whether Apple has to comply with the order as it currently stands. As such, no amount of lobbying or public statements by Apple or others is likely to sway the outcome, which will depend on individual judges’ interpretations of the facts of the case combined with the applicable laws (though I’ve no doubt Apple appreciates the support of the EFF and others who have promised to file amicus briefs). Arguably, therefore, it matters little whether other tech companies jump in on Apple’s side because they likely can’t affect the outcome.

But this case will almost certainly bring to the forefront a debate about the broader issues involved, which is what Apple has wanted all along. Once that happens, I would hope other tech companies will indeed weigh in on the issue and do so far more vigorously than they have so far. The biggest challenge is that this debate will take place in a public sphere in which discussions over complex matters are almost always over-simplified. Already, we have presidential candidates and congressmen weighing in on the issue on both sides, pandering to their bases without any real understanding of the intricacies or the broader implications. Although Apple has wanted a legislative solution all along, it now risks being dragged into a very public battle in which Exhibit A will be this court case about a terrorist’s iPhone, which may make it much tougher to win.

Published by

Jan Dawson

Jan Dawson is Founder and Chief Analyst at Jackdaw Research, a technology research and consulting firm focused on consumer technology. During his sixteen years as a technology analyst, Jan has covered everything from DSL to LTE, and from policy and regulation to smartphones and tablets. As such, he brings a unique perspective to the consumer technology space, pulling together insights on communications and content services, device hardware and software, and online services to provide big-picture market analysis and strategic advice to his clients. Jan has worked with many of the world’s largest operators, device and infrastructure vendors, online service providers and others to shape their strategies and help them understand the market. Prior to founding Jackdaw, Jan worked at Ovum for a number of years, most recently as Chief Telecoms Analyst, responsible for Ovum’s telecoms research agenda globally.

218 thoughts on “Apple’s Principled Stand”

  1. I wish I were as convinced it’s an ethics thing:

    – Apple happily operates in China, which even Google exited years ago because of privacy concerns. Not only operates, but co-perates:

    – there’s lot of PR about that case, but no objective global assessment of either practices nor code.

    Apple carefully picked a PR fight in a country were it will only “suffer” positive PR consequences. What’s happening anywhere else is a mystery, and we should be careful not to over-generalize about ethics and philosophy: this a a PR and legal case, nothing more.

    1. I disagree with your “positive PR” spin. Of course Apple is receiving overwhelming support from the tech sector (although most of the major companies’ execs are either quiet or non-commital). The general public sentiment seems to be split from most polls I’ve seen (none of which are scientific, though). Apple is taking a chance on this stance. The FBI and Judiciary get to use the scare word of the day “terrorists”, which is no small PR advantage.


      ETA: Still waiting on the FBI to use the “Save the Children” card.

    2. Apple has been able to turn down requests by China to make iPhones more hackable on the basis that Apple doesn’t grant such requests to anyone including the US government. If Apple is forced to establish a precedent with the US, then China, and Russia, and every other despotic government will follow right behind the US.

      1. Mark Cuban has an interesting take that Cook is most concerned with the All Writs Act and his implied solution is proper legislation. I don’t 100% agree, but it is an interesting perspective to consider.


      2. We don’t know what Apple has or hasn’t done to stay in China that Google wouldn’t do. The only thing we know for sure if that they’ve at least shown their source code to the Chinese authorities, anything beyond that is unproven one way or the other.

        1. Oh, if a dissident had been arrested or disappeared because of a breach of their iPhone, we’d know about that for sure. Too many people would be upset or gleeful about such an incident to keep it quiet.

          1. Mmmmm…


            “It’s reported that people in China who try to log into’s server at will have their connections intercepted and snooped on, revealing passwords and other sensitive information to hackers”

            “If true, the attack would represent something of a belt-and-braces approach to monitoring iCloud users. Apple has already agreed to host its iCloud servers with China Telecom, a company not noted for noncompliance with Chinese government data requests.”

          2. Interesting, you make it sound like Apple enabled this snooping. Since we’re having fun with excerpts here’s an update from Ars Technica on the same story:

            “Apple has confirmed the ongoing attack, and says that Safari, and the iOS and MacOS X logins to iCloud are unaffected by the attack. Apple has also changed the IP address for iCloud’s web site in order to mitigate the attack and allow customers in China to connect to iCloud without interference.

            This is hardly the first time that the Chinese government has used its control of the nation’s Internet infrastructure to attack the security of cloud and Web services. In August and early September, there was an apparent MITM attack on the Chinese messaging platform Weibo and on Google Plus. Earlier this month, there was a similar attack on, apparently targeted at monitoring what citizens read online and allowing for content filtering of any news about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. There is also an ongoing MITM attack against Microsoft’s Web mail platform.”

            Mmmmm indeed…

          3. You really think changing the IP address (one from a gov-friendly host government) to another one (from the same host) counts for anything ?
            Apple knows its users are being MITMed by the Chinese gov, and essentially does nothing. Too many sales at stake.

          4. You’ve wisely avoided the issue at hand, which is your desperate attempt to make it sound like Apple is in cahoots with the Chinese government to hack iCloud users. Yes, yes, all the ‘evidence’ surely points to Apple doing “essentially nothing”. Once again I’ve caught you in a lie. Please have the last word, I am satisfied.

          5. Which lie exactly ? Apple showed their OS code to the Chinese, and hosted their servers in the midst of what’s essentially a government facility. If that’s not being complicit, what is ?
            And that’s only what we know, there may be stuff we don’t.

            Faced with the same option, Google walked away. Yet Apple are the “principled” ones ? Which principle ? “follow the money” ?

  2. Not a lawyer, just an opinion.

    This is not a “new” problem, per se. When applying law to the digital world, one can (and should) draw analogies to the analog world.

    There are really two issues here. The first involves the search of personal property, that is the user’s personal property and information. In this case a judge must issue a warrant (Patriot Act be damned), and then this search is permissible. Under these conditions homes, bank accounts, phone and credit card records, etc., have been legally searched.

    The second, and you say this, is just how far a company or individual providing service (not just Apple) can be compelled to provide OR INVENT, the means for law enforcement to do their jobs. IMO opinion the notion of “reasonable accommodation” has been used in other contexts before. Unfortunately, that’s subjective.

    I suspect, this will be handled in a regulatory fashion in the end. The law will decide the legal status of encryption, and how it may be used. That’s a much harder problem.

  3. Security is never a question of yes or no, it has always been a matter of ” Maybe ” a depend on each situation.

    I do not think it’s Apple Job to protect its customers from their government because of the company incentive to make money from their customer and not necessarily to serve them
    that’s the Job of their representative and the Justice System

    Apple should reject government request base on technical or unlawful reason not on moral ground or PR Spin

    1. I have no problem with a company or individual pushing back on moral grounds, as long as they’re sincere and consistent.

      The 4th Amendment not only guarantees protection against ‘unreasonable’ search and seizure, but also explains that search and seizure can indeed be done. This is what we base our privacy rights upon.

      The 1st amendment guarantees freedom of expression, and Apple’s position on that is not as consistent and adamant as it is with the 4th.

      So yes, it’s conceivable they are being self serving, all dressed up in the American Flag.

      1. My problem with the company pushing against government on moral ground rely on the fact that these companies will not hesitate to turn their backs on that same moral values, from the moment it becomes a major problem to their business

        Can you imagine Tim Cook willing to sacrifice Apple’business for your personal right the same way that Martin Luther King Jr sacrificed his own life for civil right against his own government?

          1. I think it is better for a company to put pressure on the government to preserve the right of their customer, instead fighting the government on behalf of the citizen

          2. The company’s customer is the company’s problem, not society’s. As long as laws are fare and equitable, society has no further debt to a company to fulfill.

          3. “The company’s customer is the company’s problem, not society’s. As long as laws are fare and equitable, society has no further debt to a company to fulfil.”

            So, if a customer is Apple’s customer, and it came to be (after all this is over) that he was dissatisfied with the degree the govt can snoop on his iPhone, that’s Apple’s problem. Apple can’t expect society to support it (in the interests of society) in its attempt to head that outcome off, nor expect society to appreciate the lengths to which it went trying to hold out, should that day arrive. Apple can’t appeal to society when it tries to align a product with the end user’s interests. I mean, how self-serving can you get; you’re a real jerk if you try to make something someone actually wants and happen to sell a bunch.

            But, a customer of Google or MS who has lost time, money and productivity dealing with malware, and whose societal institutions and govt has also lost time, money and productivity — they’re not Google’s and MS’ problems. In fact, society apparently owes Google and MS all kinds of thanks. I mean, they try so hard, and they’re “open”, aren’t they, so how bad can they really be? It’s really society’s problem for not making it even easier for MS and Google to sell products that aren’t aligned with the end user’s interests so much as the data-gatherers’ interests.

          4. When I say company, I mean ANY company. I know you have difficulty with that.

            If an Apple customer is dissatisfied due to Apple’s actions their problem is with Apple. If it’s with the law, their problem is the law. It’s really simple really.

          5. Yes and no. It’s really not that simple.

            Often times, technology is ahead of the law. And the only laws available are imperfectly applied laws that didn’t account for new technologies and possibilities.

            Hence, privacy laws don’t take into account all the stops that digital data can now take between you and anywhere else on the globe — previously, you only had to worry about who physically had access to your doctor’s/psychiatrist’s/employer’s physical filing cabinet.

            Google already plays fast and loose, defining things as they see fit. They disregard privacy settings in Safari, for example, just because they can, and because it isn’t strictly against any law. But it’s unethical.

            Google obviously think they know best, in the same way you complain that Apple acts like it knows best. Both can couch it in terms of the user’s interest. And in reality we know both companies will act in their self interests. But only one, as many of these discussions highlight time and again, has both the company’s and the user’s interests more or less aligned — and that by intention. And that, in a nutshell, is why Apple enjoys the loyalty that it does.

          6. [edit] Here we have a case in which one part of the govt. (law enforcement) wants to extend powers or do something that is not yet clearly defined in law; and that precedence will in turn shape how future laws will turn out.

            Both Apple and the FBI want clear legislation. BUT, Apple does not want what it is pressured to do NOW in the short term (by the FBI, not by its users) to shape what laws have yet to be made.

            So, no, it’s not about either having a problem with a company or with a law. It’s that what a company rushes ahead and does ill-advisedly, impatiently or impetuously (or just plain evilly), may inform the kind of law that society ends up with that affects individuals.

          7. It wasn’t I that said the horse was out, and I agree that this deserves attention. I even distilled it down to what the real question ought to be.

          8. Well, with the new swing vacancy in the Supreme Court, maybe the paddock door can be reopened after all and the horse can be rounded up and returned.

          9. Being that it’s a figurative horse, can’t we just shoot it, burn it, dig a hole and place the ashes, and then cover the hole with salt?
            (Credit to Jerry Pournelle)

            Then we can bury the shovel… 🙂

          10. Reductionism is a fine tool for obfuscating what is really at stake. The real problem isn’t whether or not Apple is “consistent” ethically, morally, or commercially. The real problem is how we as a society are consistent. If not the world, certainly at least China IS watching what we do. Russia is already mimicking our language by using “terrorist threats” as a justification for their actions. To think China won’t do likewise if we allow this unprecedented order to be fulfilled, especially under the deliberately ambiguous All Writs Act.

            This is not happening in a vacuum and will have global consequences as well as domestic.


          11. I still can’t read your stance and it just might be my own poor reading comprehension. But do you agree or not agree that Apple should just comply with what the court order compels them to do? Set aside what you think are the motives of Apple, the FBI, the judge, the other tech companies. Just evaluate it on the basis of what’s good for society. Not just in the US, but in China, Russia, and the rest of the world.

          12. It’s not your reading comprehension, it’s my poor communication skills.

            Easy stuff first. Apple (and everybody else) is free to pursue every legal avenue it has at it’s disposal. In the end of that process Apple (and everybody else) needs to abide by the law.

            I still adamantly believe that a warrant, as a confirmation of reasonable cause for search and seizure, is proper in weighting, on a case by case basis, the boundaries of anyone’s privacy. I believe this balances liberty versus law enforcement, and thus is good for society.

            The extent to which Apple (or anyone else) is required to assist law enforcement, depends heavily on what is being asked. Not only the nature of the information, but the burden and qualifications imposed on providing it.

            Should the Congress make a law forbidding or weakening encryption, and the president signs it into law, and the Supreme Court upholds it, then it must be abided. This is what’s good, overall, for society.

            Internationally, these matters all speak to sovereignty. As a nation, I believe it’s imperative we respect other countries sovereignty, just as vigorously as we defend ours. This, even for nations with which we disagree.

            I do believe that we Americans, seeing ourselves as leaders of the free world, ought to behave like we are.

          13. Have no objections to what you said. But I take it as an indication of how seriously you’re grappling with the issue that you haven’t yet decided whether what the FBI is asking Apple to do is good or bad for society. I think people can respect that.

          14. Here’s an additional tidbit of information I came across.


            Within the article they clarify that the FBI is asking Apple to modify the device’s firmware to turn off a 10 failed pin attempt wiping the phone. The FBI then, on their own equipment, could brute force crack the encryption.

            Regardless of one’s position on the matter, that is a back door, and it exists already.

          15. That horse has strayed out of the paddock long ago. And the paddock door was just shut for good thanks to Chief Justice Roberts and Citizens United. “Corporations are people too, my friend” said candidate Romney.

            So, since corporations now have political rights as if they are people, and we can’t stop them from exercising those political rights, we can only hope that those rights are exercised for the greater rather than corporate good.

          16. I hope you don’t take my statement to mean that I appreciate it. Few things raise my civic hackles these days as much as merely getting reminded of Citizens United.

          17. No worries friend, I didn’t. Citizen’s United is an affront to democracy and is an abomination. It’s just slightly less contemptible than an employer walking into the voting booth with their employee.

        1. Indeed the ethics stance would be more believable if Apple didn’t use the same horrendous subcontractors as everyone else…

        2. You don’t think that Tim Cook’s stance has already created a very big risk for Apple’s business? How far will you let your anti-Apple bias color your perceptions and totally impair your ability to think critically?

          Here’s how you can recover some objectivity, imagine it’s Google and not Apple that’s doing this.

          Edit: As a stockholder with significant savings in AAPL, I am quite apprehensive about what this means, but I totally support Apple’s position as a matter of civic concern.

          1. How has Cook’s stance endangered Apple’s business ? You think the US gov will ban Apple’s products even when they’ve already vetoed Samsung’s courtroom win ?

          2. You think a wave of very negative publicity could not damage Apple’s business? Why do you think Google, Microsoft and Facebook have been very timid about this issue?

          3. Are you not reading the online posts that are very critical of Apple? And no, not all publicity is good publicity, you know that. But as usual when you run out of valid rebuttals, go with the tired old glib, flippant and meaningless slogans. Sophistry.

          4. 1- online posts are just that: one individual’s opinions (or, with luck, analysis). What counts is the general public’s opinion, and more precisely, Apple customers’.
            2- I’ve never seen you give credence to any post having issue with anything Apple does before. It’s ironic you pull that one now, right before-…
            3- your ad hominem. Apple would have a leg to stand on with ethics if they announced they’re moving their assembly lines to humane countries, even if that means raising assembly costs from $10 to $20.

          5. I don’t agree with Apple bricking phones through Error 53. Maybe not here, since it was never raised in TP but in other fora. I consider the unilateral permanent disabling of phones totally unacceptable and have asserted that if what was described is true, then they have to pay the piper for it.

            Apple really does not do a lot of things that I object to. They don’t suck up personal information the way Google and Facebook does, they don’t prey on kids’ careless internet habits as a matter of policy, and despite the pressures of competition, Tim Cook strikes me as a highly ethical human being. Steve Jobs maybe couldn’t help being a jerk on a personal level but his (public) values were highly ethical as well.

            The criticisms raised against Apple, like the one you raised about setting up assembly lines in more humane countries, I view as mainly hypocritical and are being trotted out for meaningless rhetorical ‘gotcha’ points because every other tech company is guilty of the same thing but only Apple gets called for it. In fact Apple is the only company that is making a serious effort to improve working conditions in those factories. But go ahead, go for the ‘gotcha’ moment, it’s the easy thing to do. Intellectually dishonest but so easy to fling. Sophistry, as I said.

          6. Maybe the hypocrites are the ones making a big stand on principles when there’s no money at stake, ie not in China, and not in “their” factories ?

          7. I’m going to do an obarth and trot out a glib but meaningless gotcha rejoinder: We’re all hypocrites in the end.

            See, I can do sophistry too if I wanted too.

            The serious answer is that no one company can reconfigure an economy to suddenly make every worker highly paid. It couldn’t be done in France during the industrial revolution, it couldn’t be done in the US, and it couldn’t be done in China either. I would ask the Foxconn worker in China is he better off working for Foxconn rather than scratching for subsistence wages back in the province where he grew up? Are the jobs cushy?

            It is ridiculous to have an economic system where everyone pays the prevailing and legal market-determined wage except you, the one most famous and profitable company. You can’t have capitalism for everyone but socialism just for one company. Even Thomas Piketty would say that’s foolish. And I’ve read his book and generally liked what he said and prescribed.

          8. Indeed, but let’s not forget that a job at home is better than a job abroad, and a “bare minimum” US job is much better than a “bare minimum” asia job.

            Mentioning Amazon’s employment challenges w/o also taking Apple to task for mostly creating very sucky jobs abroad (instead of semi-sucky jobs at home) is very partisan.

          9. Let’s see. Amazon eliminates local stores and jobs without contributing back to the local economy’s loss. Apple adds to the local retail presence and jobs market.

            Apple actually has products made here. Where does Amazon make their electronics?


          10. How many US jobs does Amazon create, and how many does Apple ?

            What’s Amazon’s+subcontractors’ average wage vs Apple’s+subcontractors’ ? Wwide.

            At some point, facts have to be faced….

          11. A study of US Census data showed that as Amazon grows the effect is a net negative on jobs in the US. Amazon destroys more jobs than it creates. Even if we forget about that data, it is Apple that creates more jobs in the US, by a significant amount. That’s not even counting an economic multiplier, which normally is estimated for large scale corporations. Apple’s number of US jobs gets even larger if we do that. Source! you’ll scream desperately, almost unhinged at the very thought of actual data not supporting your narrative. Do your own homework is what I say. Cue the trotting out of link upon link that ‘proves’ your narrative hasn’t been destroyed.

          12. This is getting funny. Any way around the issue: “but my neighbour”,

            Basic facts are Apple has its stuff made abroad pay underpaid “workers”., Amazon hires nationally warehouse employees.

            How many US jobs does Apple create, and how many Amazon ?
            How many non-US jobs incl subcontractors ?
            What average wage ?

            Then you’ll get the picture.

            Also, source ?

          13. Do you’re own research. The figures are out there. I know it won’t tell the story you want it to tell, but give it a try.

            Apple hires in the US. Apple pays better than Amazon. Apple isn’t displacing workers with robots. Amazon has products made in the same “sweatshops” as Apple.

            Try getting the picture.


          14. Amazon creates about 2x more US jobs than Apple.
            Amazon employs a lot fewer subcontracting sweatshops to save $10 on a $600 gadget.
            Subcontrators included, Apple pays a lot less well than Amazon.
            Apple is displacing US workers with 3rd-world workers, and is also displacing workers with robots (which is just as well. Far from your eyes, so you don’t care, I get it. I haven’t heard about riots at Amazon’s warehouses though, there have been at Apple’s.

          15. What do you believe the answers are? Yes at some point the facts have to be faced.

            Also how many jobs were lost because of Amazon vs Apple?

            I don’t think the real numbers show what you think they show. Amazon subtracts from economies. Apple adds.


          16. Let’s take Apple out of the equation so we cant be objective.

            Company A:
            – hires directly
            – hires nationally
            – pays regular US wages

            Company B
            – subcontracts
            – in the lowest-cost countries
            – pays those countries very low wages
            – To top it of, this is to optimize $11 out of $600 product, ie 2% of price. God forbid this should rise to 4% by directly hiring in the US.

            And we’re criticizing Company A’s HR practices over Company B’s ?

          17. Sure take Apple out of the equation, especially when the numbers don’t match the narrative you want to believe.

            Fact is both A and B apply to Amazon AND Apple.

            The major difference, as Apple sells more, they open more stores, hire more people, ADDING to local economies. As Amazon sells more, businesses close, workers displaced, weakening local economies.

            Apple Store employees make an average of $2/hour more than equivalent Amazon fulfillment center employees. Who’s paying regular US wages?

            So, AGAIN, who makes Amazon’s electronic products? You think those $50 Kindles are made in the US? Good thing they are so cheap because they keep putting people here out of work. And how many of Amazon electronic’s are made in the US?


          18. retail jobs paid only $2 more than warehouse jobs ? That’s very low. And there’s half as many jobs…

            Amazon’s electronic products are anecdotal, their main business is distribution. Where they create 2x as many jobs, in much better conditions, and at a much better pay, than Apple do with their subcontracted worker bees for their main product.

          19. Amazon electronics are hardly “anecdotal”. It’s half of what Mr. Lowenstein finds impressive about Amazon! You only mischaracterize it as “anecdotal” to obfuscate the fact that it doesn’t fit your narrative. When you go to Amazon’s website, what do you most often see them advertising at the top of their page? Hint: It ain’t sneakers. By Amazon’s own accounting their hardware is their top selling electronic devices. “Anecdotal”. Sure, whatever you say!

            Amazon uses foreign factories just as Apple does and for the same reasons. I know, I know, it isn’t what you want anyone or yourself to believe. But it’s true! And Apple actually DOES make some of their product in the US. How many products does Amazon make in the US again? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

            You are trying to paint Apple has having no US employment presence when it is just not the case. That’s still over 40,000 just retail jobs. Considering Amazon’s much larger retail presence compared to Apple stores, that ain’t nothin’. And the pay is better. And they are not being replaced by robots and drones.

            Again, Apple contributes to the local economies. Amazon reduces. No matter how you try to paint it, them’s the facts.


          20. Again, Apple employs half as many people as Amazon in the US, mostly because they prefer to subcontract to sweatshops accross the world to get to those $11 assembly costs. Them’s the facts.

            You can try to make that out as “contributing more to the local economy”, but it doesn’t hold water. The biggest employer contributes more, full stop. Especially when the smaller employer could move production to the US with barely a blip in profits ($11 to $22 out of $600 price ?).

            As for Amazon’s tablets being anecdotal, in 15Q4 they sold 5M of them, let’s be generous and say they sold 15M for the whole of 2015, and the ASP is $100 (both are wildly inflated I’m sure). That’s 1.5b$ out of 107b$ total revenue. Overwhelmingly meaningful indeed…

          21. You know tablets aren’t the only things Amazon is selling.

            You got nothing but lower paying jobs and a net job loss no matter how you cut it. And the people who lost their jobs because of Amazon paid other people and made more. Net income is lost.

            That’s not contributing to an economy. That is whittling away at an economy, full stop, period.


          22. As opposed to having your $600 device manufactured abroad for $10 instead of at home for $20 which is… tremendously helping the economy ?

            Indeed, no jobs is better than a lower paying job. Or is it ?

          23. “Indeed, no jobs is better than a lower paying job. Or is it ?”

            That’s the point. There were jobs. And they were local. Then Amazon. Now those jobs are gone. IF one is LUCKY, they might get a brand spankin’ new warehouse and job to grace the rural landscape to replace the job they had, but at a lower wage or salary. Think Hank Hill and Megalo mart.

            But most of those jobs are away from where the jobs are lost. And they pay less. And they mean less.

            This is not contributing.


          24. You’re confused:
            Apple is creating mostly $1/hr jobs
            Amazon is creating mostly $10/hr jobs. Twice as many of those as Apple.

            I’m not sure what’s so hard to understand about that.

          25. He’s explained it several times to you. The “twice as many” are at the expense of other local/national jobs. So there is no net gain in jobs. Doesn’t matter if Amazon employed 5 times as many people. Apple’s jobs in developed countries are additive, a net gain to the economy.

            The assembly jobs in third world countries would never have been in the US. So, no loss to developed countries. Though Apple does add a number of assembly and service jobs in places like Ireland.

            The fact that Apple accounts for more assembly jobs in developing countries is because it builds and sells an ever larger number of devices. The more devices Apple can build and sell, the more retail staff Apple hires, the more service people Apple hires, the more engineers Apple hires, the more developers there are, the more resellers there are…

          26. No he hasn’t. He’s tried to obfuscate by making Amazon responsible for ecommerce, the Internet, Progress…. Somehow buying a book on Amazon with an iPhone is a Bad Thing, and it’s Amazon’s bad. That’s crazy talk. More than that, it’s stupid: we keep being told how Yuuuuge Apple is in e-commerce, so if ecommerce is evil, Apple is probably more evil than Amazon. Or the Internet. Or Progress.

            Moto made phones in the US, where do you pull your “it can’t be done in the US” from ?

            Yes, successful companies hire and stuff trickles down… thank you ? Amazon sells stuff, hires, makes suppliers work, FedEx work… I’m not sure hat your point is ? Apple’s job are substractive too: whatever Apple sells isn’t sold by someone else. If you want to go macro, it never stops. The bare facts are Apple creates subcontractors underpaid jobs in the 3rd world, Amazon directly hires in the US. The rest is obfuscation.

            Apple makes a choice to prioritize profits over employment. The more it sells, the more get locked up in those ghastly work camps. I’m sure conditions at Amazons can be unpleasant. I’m even more sure they are way worse, and underpaid, at Apple. Don’t take my word for it, look at the deaths and riot reports.

          27. That’s quite a one-sided, incomplete picture you’ve got there. As Joe already hinted, both Company A and Company B both hire directly and nationally, and sub contract abroad.

            Company B has a lot of national stores (39 in UK for example). And probably doesn’t rely quite as much on temp contracts as does Company A. Also, Company B pays a lot of money out to app developers.

            He wasn’t “criticizing Company A’s HR practices over Company B’s”. (Though we could talk about temp contracts and warehouse jobs in first world countries).

            If you read, he said Apple tends to add to a local economy, while Amazon detracts. The odd warehouse here and there is not good for anything but some temp jobs and putting small firms of all kinds out of business. An Apple Store on the other hand is the rising tide that floats all boats and makes whole malls and high streets more prosperous.

          28. I lol’ed at “Also, Company B pays a lot of money out to app developers.”. I heard Comp. A also pays suppliers, and does take less than a 30% cut…

            Let’s complete the picture, not resorting to neighbourly anecdote and “tide that floats all boats” clichés. Apple employs 76k people in the US. Their PR blurb starts with “1.9 million”… that gets whittled down toward the end, but obviously, the PR works well on some. I don’t see Amazon taking credit for employment at suppliers, maybe they should ?
            Amazon employs 230k ppl wwide and don’t break out regionally. They do 92% fof their business in the US, so probably around 143k in the US. Not counting seasonal workers (another 100k this year)

            And again, these are direct, US-based, US-rate jobs. Almost exactly twice your “tide that floats all boats” lol, and counting suppliers, the taxes they pay, and the babysitters for the working parents, I’m sure several millions. But only Apple would claim that figure :-p

            So your argument doesn’t hold water, Apple creates fewer jobs in the US too, and that doesn’t at all hide the main issue: Apple would rather use subcontractors in sweatshops across the world than pay a couple handful of dollars more for assembly. As long as the casing is shiny….

            So let’s criticize Amazon for being a high-pressure workplace, and for… ruining the economy through jobs creation, I guess ? At least Apple do most of their job creation abroad, where no-one can see the sweatshops…

          29. Out of that 240k, 90k are low paying warehouse jobs. So you are down to 130k right out of the gate.

            Apple is 115k worldwide (June, 2015), not including retail and manufacturing job creation.

            Amazon’s job creation is a net loss. Apple’s is always additive. Not sure why you don’t want to see that except, you know, personal pride.

            You’re argument sunk the moment you tried.


          30. How, low-end jobs don’t count now ? Is it because manual work is dirty ? Do those people *smell* ? The horror ! A job is a job is a job. But I assume jobs where people die, commit suicide and riot, are OK in your iBook ?

            And you should launch a new economics movement about jobs destroying jobs when they’re not at Apple… Amazon destroys, Apple creates, got it. And that’s because… Oh, sorry, I misssed the always, of course, always. At that point you should just copy-paste their PR about 1.9M jobs, it’s about as believable and honest.

            So to recap, Amazon with 2x the jobs in the US contributes less than Apple with half the jobs and most of their work done in sweatshops. Got it. As long as the iPhones shine…

          31. I was just riffin’ on your complaint that Apple only offered low end jobs in the US. When it is clear that Amazon’s are lower, I guess you didn’t really mean it.

            Amazon with 2x contributes less because they don’t make up for the jobs that are lost. That’s, well, math.


          32. But my neighbor is important. He pays taxes in my community. That affects our local infrastructure, our local schools, our local municipal where-with-all. When Apple comes in and builds a store, they contribute to that as well. Heck, when Wal-Mart is local they contribute too. Certainly more than Amazon does remotely. Amazon has no care for my neighbor, my neighborhood, my schools, my teachers, police, and fire departments.

            But that warehouse job in the middle of an Arizona desert? Sure thing buddy! I know they aren’t all out there, but effectively they are when the local economy suffers because of it.)


          33. Anecdote is not the singular of data. And the data is: Amazon creates 2x more jobs in the US.

          34. I believe back in 2013, Obama, gave a speech about Amazon and it’s negative impact on the U.S. economy. If memory serves me correctly, the ILSR provides data for some of the following:

            The figures I believe are averages, median, mean or estimates — you’ll need to double check.

            1. Brick-n-mortar employs 47 people per $10mm in sales; Amazon, only 14.

            2. Amazon has some of the most reported workplace abuses; overheating in warehouses, injury prone workloads, and supposedly a security guard that is claimed to represent neo-Nazi tactics. All according to filed complaints. Of course, this could be said for many employers.

            3. Amazon pilfers value from local economies. Amazon encourages online comparison and shopping behavior. This is according to Codex Group.

            4. Amazon drains dollars from local economies. Case studies from ILSR found that $5 out of $100 spent locally, stays local. Amazon, is near $0.

            5. Amazon costs taxpayers. Many local munis payout incentives in the multi million range for buildouts. The subsidies are more difficult to negotiate as states and munis become aware of lost billions. All according to ILSR.

            Caveat- ILSR is an independent institute in support of local communities and is a consistent publisher promoting local self-reliance.

            Also, I can easily find support for the existence of Amazon. There’s always a group for some side. It’s just a matter of which side you relate to better.

          35. I’ve read this and the pro Amazon stuff, too. When wanting to build a new warehouse somewhere Amazon is facing the same issues as Walmart. Not sure why it is so hard to see that if you start with 100 people employed, lose 25 jobs because of “Company A”, then they only add 10 jobs back (at lower pay), that is “creating jobs”??? Sounds like a politician.


          36. Probably. That’s <5% of Amazon's business though, and 60+% of Apple's, so if you do find that objectionable, you have a much bigger issue with Apple than with Amazon. At least Amazon creates twice the US jobs.

            And I find being worried about $10 assembly on a $50 tablet less objectionable than on a $600 phone. But that's me, obviously not you.

            Also, when someone uses an iPhone to order on Amazon and causes your neighbour to lose his job, is it mostly Amazon's fault or Apple's ? What about all the secretaries we no longer need ?

          37. Since even just basic math shows everything you’ve tried to argue, well, wrong, let’s address this. Amazon destroys more jobs than it creates, period.

            What does how much Amazon or Apple depends on Asian “sweatshops” have to do with anything? If using the “$1/hr” Asian workers is wrong, it’s wrong regardless. There is no “one is _more_ wrong” argument that can be made.

            Do you think if Amazon sold more of their electronics they would decide it isn’t worth using your sweatshops and that those jobs would come to the US?

            Or Amazon trying to save on production costs is somehow more noble than Apple (or Motorola or Samsung or Blackberry or… who does not have cell phones and other electronics made in Asian sweatshops?).

            Or that Amazon is NOT creating “$1/hr” jobs in Asian sweatshops?

            You simply have no argument.


          38. It’s little use arguing with obart. He flails as he shifts from point to point, without admitting he’s wrong, while randomly asserting facts that are really only analyst opinions.

            That said, determining who created more net jobs in the US or even worldwide is a fairly complex task. However, it’s unlikely that Amazon created 2x the net US jobs of Apple, given how many local stores they put out of business.

            But who primarily caused the Circuit City and CompUSA chains to shut down — Amazon, Walmart, Apple Store, Best Buy, mismanagement? What led local camera shops to close — Amazon, Walmart, iPhone, Android? It seems quite hard to determine. How many products did iPhone and Android phones crush? Though they led to new software development and accessories industries, they probably also slowed the PC industry. How does one assess that? Need some economists to weigh in, I think.

          39. The argument couldn’t be simple:
            One company creates mostly jobs in the US, the other in the 3rd world.
            One company creates twice as many US jobs as the other.
            For the 3rd world part, one company has the excuse of competing at the bottom of the market, the other doesn’t.

            I understand that because you use Apple products you’ve got some ego invested in Apple being Perfect and Good and Nice, and that by extension whichever company it is being compared to in any article must be much worse and responsible for all the evil of the world and your neighbor losing its jobs. But again. US jobs, Twice as many. 3rd world jobs, marginal vs dominant. $10 out of $50 vs out of $600.

            Apple does many nice things. Utter reliance on sweatshops isn’t one of them.

          40. And yet your own Anti-Apple sentiment is willing to give everyone else a free ride for doing the same things you find disgusting from Apple.

            And one last time, Amazon destroys over 2 jobs for every 1 it “created”. Simple.


          41. 1- Still waiting for a source on that.

            2- The same can be said of phones, computers, engines… progress in general, it’s called creative destruction. Were have all the telegraphists jobs gone ? If you’ve got a bone against e-commerce… isn’t Apple famous for being e-commercing through a lot more than anybody else ? When you buy a book from Amazon with your iPhone, somehow Amazon and only Amazon is to blame ?

            3- Again, Amazon creates mostly US jobs, Apple mostly 3rd-world. Amazon creates 2x as many US jobs as Apple. The smidgen of cheap jobs Amazon creates in the 3rd world is to make $50 tablets. The boatloads of cheap jobs Apple creates in the 3rd world is to make $600 luxury phones which could easily take the hit of real wages and good working conditions.

            You’ve made your choice, don’t try to alter reality to make it admirable…

          42. Good thing reality is on my side, then.

            Do your own research. And don’t stop at the results you like.

            Longboard did some for you already to get you started.


          43. And Company B also pays suppliers for the other standard items in the physical and online stores: such as accessories, music, video, magazines, etc.

            The App developer point was that Company B contributes to the gainful employment of more than those it directly employs in its stores. So, not only did you leave out direct employees of Company B in developed nations, but you left out the new “app economy” that is growing as a direct result of the iPhone.

          44. it’s “as a direct result of smartphones”, Apple’s Appstore does not even make up most of the revenues since 2014.

            Yes, each company is part of an ecosystem. People earn livings making apps for iPhones, doodads for Amazon, delivering the stuff, supporting the stuff… that doesn’t change the fact the Amazon creates 2x more jobs, in the US; while Apple subcontracts to 3rd world sweatshops. That’s individual, direct, action and choices. Smoke and mirrors about externalities around that are just maskirovka.

          45. Actually when you total each companies US full and part time employees Amazon’s total is hardly 2x. But you’ve already shown a disdain for math when it doesn’t fit your fantasy world.


          46. That’s not even maths, that’s facts, and you’re the one with issues:

            “In 2015, the American multinational e-commerce company, headquartered in
            Seattle, Washington, employed 230,800 full- and part-time employees.” ( ) of which I took 62% since that’s Amazon’s share of business in the US (that’s probably an under estimate becasue AWS, headquarters…) and that’s w/o seasonnals.

            As of December 2015, […]now directly employ more than 76,000 people in the US, representing nearly two‑thirds of Apple’s worldwide team. (from ), notice my 62% guesstimate for Amazon is in line with Apple.

            I had already cited those figures, you deny them out of hand w/o citing sources. This is becoming pitiful.

          47. “Apple’s Appstore does not even make up most of the revenues since 2014.”

            Unbelievable. Yes, I know. Because, Apple actually makes money on its phones and sells a whole bunch of them. But the money developers and retailers and staff and others make is still more than through most other companies because of the volumes of iPhones. People who buy iPhones spend more on those other things, keep them longer, buy another one, etc.

            All those things you normally say are negative things are actually positives in this particular discussion. Over the life of an iPhone (longer than most phones), the user will spend more on items that contribute to the bottom line of others besides Apple. Fact.

            “that doesn’t change the fact the Amazon creates 2x more jobs, in the US;”

            You keep saying that — others keep telling you that doesn’t change the fact that those jobs are a net loss to the economy, not a gain.

          48. I keep saying that because it’s what matters and what Amazon and Apple directly control: their employment practices. Apple chooses to employ indirectly, abroad, at the cheapest rate, to generate profits they also keep abroad, god forbid they’d pay taxes on those or put them back in the economy. Guess what, people who buy non-iPhones at 1/4 to 1/2 the price use the remainder of the money for something else, it’s not sleeping abroad as unused, untaxed profit.

            Sure, ecommerce hurts local stores. What do you want to do , un-invent it ? Then move up to the Internet and even Progress, because those also hurt many businesses for sure. Don’t forget smartphones, they hurt PC makers, secretaries, the landline ecosystem. Also don’t forget that Apple prides itself on its ecommerce importance, so part of the blame for that falls on Apple too. Actually, a bigger parts than Amazon’s ( , ). Except, let me guess, when someone e-buys off an iPhone, it creates jobs and contributes to the economy, when someone e-buys on Amazon, it kills jobs and makes your neighbour depressive.

          49. My statement about an iPhone user’s creating wealth through his spend in the ecosystem was in direct response to your complaint that Apple makes more from its phones than it does from the products sold on the phones.

            Now, compare that, if you like, to the devices that Amazon builds and sells (again, built in the developing world), or to sales directly related to those devices and their ecosystems (vs general commerce sales of unrelated products). Amazon’s devices are primarily used in the US and UK, as loss leaders to sell a service that often puts small companies out of business. And these devices to not themselves support a large and vibrant ecosystem of retailers, resellers, developers, etc.

            “I keep saying that because it’s what matters and what Amazon and Apple directly control: their employment practices.”

            It matters to your argument, yes: 2x the jobs or whatever. Only, as everyone explains, there is a net loss, so it doesn’t matter if it is 5x.

            To help you grasp what this net loss means:
            No Apple = less jobs
            No Amazon = more jobs

            Those warehouse jobs are at the expense of small businesses, local stores, etc. This IS directly under Amazon’s control, because it is their Business Model. Just like Walmart.

          50. iFans keep repeating “Apple jobs are additive, Amazon jobs are substractive” like a mantra, with no proof, no source, and no reasoning. I’m guessing the basis is Apple’s PR blurb on their jobs page, Amazon should tally up all the jobs involved in making the stuff it sells. iPhones kill jobs too: pigeon handlers, telegraph operators, secretaries…

            1- if you think ecommerce is bad, Apple is responsible for more of it than Amazon (at least in the US)

            2- if you think ecommerce is bad, by extension the Internet is bad and even progress is bad. I don’t agree.

            3- you’re trying to confuse externalities with what is directly under each company’s control. Apple chooses to create mostly crap jobs abroad at subcontractors; Amazon creates mostly very average jobs but at home and directly. That’s a direct choice by both of them, and that’s by far the most meaningful and revealing of each company’s values. Deal with it.

            4- going to sweatshops to save a couple handful of dollars per device is a lot more understandable for $50 device than for $600 supposedly premium ones. And that’s Amazon’s side business vs Apple’s main business, so trying to equate the 2 is laughable.

          51. So almost all of Android’s smartphones (85% of the market) are made in Asia. If we take your relativistic view of things, Android is doing far more harm with sweatshops than Apple. As a matter of fact Apple’s paltry 15% is hardly noticeable as to be meaningless. To try to equate the two is laughable.


          52. You’re the one who keeps bringing up China. I keep talking about the US and what each company is doing here, now. It’s not easy to get to. You have to dig through Census records to find what backed ILSR’s and ABA’s figures. But you won’t do that because you don’t really care, you are just being argumentative. And Anti-Apple.

            I care because it is affecting people I know and an industry I participate in. So I did my research and switched from pro-Amazon and the new model to anti-Amazon, but still pro new model because I do think the internet can help local businesses (and I know quite a few that it has helped). But that isn’t Amazon’s goal or even mild interest.

            I am interested in their new push for B&M bookstores. That may turn things around enough for me to turn my opinion on Amazon around. But so far it seems less interesting as it goes.

            As it is now, each plus for Amazon employment in the US is replacing -2. That is not contributing jobs. Each plus for Apple is a job and local taxes that didn’t exist before.


          53. 2 questions:

            1- is your issue with Amazon in particular, or with e-commerce in general displacing old-commerce ? ebooks/abooks/games/shows replacing boks in general, or only when they’re from Amazon ?

            2- If your issue is with ecommerce in general (which I suspect it is, other e-commerce actors have pretty much the same modus operandi and impact as Amazon), isn’t the medium (mostly, iPhones) as “guilty” as the supplier (mostly, not Amazon, anyway) ?

            I don’t “keep bringing up China”. I keep comparing each comanies employment practices: direct vs indirect, national vs abroad, 1st-world vs sweatshops. You keep trying to confuse that with externalities.

          54. My issue is not ecommerce. Love ecommerce and I don’t think a lot of the smaller and local retailers are taking or know how to take advantage of it. I think that is the only way forward (as part of a larger tactic) for not just the retail industry and authors, but the arts in general, too. It has such an opportunity (and has been for many) a way to reach even more customers than before.

            My issue is businesses are closing and people are losing jobs because of Amazon tactics. Book stores can’t get books from their suppliers for as low a price as Amazon sells because Amazon is willing to take the loss to drive traffic. Even when I knew booksellers willing to buy form Amazon (why wouldn’t they? Their suppliers were charging more), it wasn’t enough. For all the grief and legalities against Apple and book publishers, it was the first time Amazon was forced into a level playing field. Which of course they can’t dominate.

            Amazon is doing to both B&M stores AND ecommerce endeavors what Wal-Mart is doing to B&M. You said it yourself, Amazon is Walmart. With the same results and a greater reach.

            China is an externality. It’s not like Apple is going against industry practices by building in China. Amazon is, too. I don’t fault either company or any electronics/computer/smartphone maker for doing that. Would I rather see those jobs back in the US? Sure. But that is not the reality of today. At least Apple IS making some of their products in the US.

            (And as someone who has needed tool and die shop work in the past, I totally get Cook’s comment regarding what is actually doable in the US regarding mfgring.)

            And Apple has a retail presence in all 50 states. Their retail may not be the size of Amazon, but at least they are spreading it around. Amazon is highly centralized (not the right word, but the one that pops to mind).

            Actually the iPhone and “app as store front” has helped players beyond Amazon, especially specialty shops. So, no. I don’t find the iPhone a guilty player in the process. It is, like the internet in general, an opportunity.

            With regards to retail (and not even just e-retail anymore), Amazon is the equivalent to MS and the PC.


          55. If Tim Cook’s comments aren’t bullshit, how did Moto manage to make phones in the US until 2014 ? I thought Apple had a monopoly on magic ?

            Your issue is with progress then ? Creative destruction is inherent in it, and in capitalism. Lose pigeon breeders and telegraphists jobs, because of phones, etc… less efficient company get disrupted by more efficient ones. Sure anyone can tally up jobs that disappeared, assign then to Amazon (never mind the purchases happened over iPhones or that someone else would have gotten the e-order absent Amazon). next ?

            You fault Amazon for rationalizing, then give a pass to Apple because “everybody’s doing it”. What do you think other ecommerce firms are doing, if not the exact same as Amazon. Yet one is guilty and the other isn’t ?

            Again, what matters is the direct decisions of each companies. Amazon creates direct, US jobs, Apple creates mostly indirect, sweatshop jobs. Amazon creates millions of jobs at suppliers (and rises purchasing power by lowering prices, and quality of life by making stuff available in remote locations), same as Apple creates jobs in its ecosystem and betters peoples’ life, and that’s irrelevant. What counts for this discussion is hiring practices, and they couldn’t be more different. Apple = indirect sweatshops, Amazon = direct US.

          56. If you’ve never tried to find a tool and die shop in the US, of course you’d think its BS.

            I gave Amazon the same pass as Apple, re: mfg in China. You’re the one making a stink about it.

            And yet Motorola isn’t here any more, and how much were they losing at the time, too?

            Yes, direct decisions. Amazon’s decisions kill jobs and replaces with not as many and for lower pay. Apple creates new jobs.


          57. “If Tim Cook’s comments aren’t bullshit, how did Moto manage to make phones in the US until 2014 ?”

            Simple. They didn’t make it in the USA, the back of the box says “Designed and Assembled in the USA”. I’ll leave it to you to learn the difference between Assembled in the USA and Made in the USA. Add to that the fact that they couldn’t keep doing it, it wasn’t sustainable.

            And apparently some of the devices said Assembled in China on the back:


          58. Heh, you actually fell for Moto’s BS. And no, Moto didn’t manage it, they couldn’t sustain it. Do you really not understand why manufacturing has moved overseas? The Moto X was still made in China, even during the Rah Rah America campaign.

          59. FYI, Nokia, RIM, LG,… also assembled/still assemble phones in 1st-world or at least “2n-world” countries. It’s not an physical nor even financial impossibility, it’s a choice: profits > good jobs.

            It’s OK not to care, I personnally don’t, much. But then again I don’t pay over the odds for luxury stuff, and when I do, I *then *do* care about process, not just shiny.

          60. Heh, took you long enough to think up a response to save face. Again, I encourage you to learn about the difference between assembled in and made in. You’re still falling for PR hook line and sinker. Oh but of course now it’s about ‘caring’, and not at all about how you totally got suckered by PR. Thanks for the laugh.

          61. I’m OK with just assembled, and I know the difference, thank you. Let’s discuss assembled shall we ? As I said a while posts back ?

          62. Of course you’re okay with assembled, now, after I schooled you. Your ego leaves you no other choice. Please, have the last word, I insist. And again, thank you for the laugh. You are priceless. Now quick, make some witty remark about prices!

          63. So how many products does Amazon make that are assembled in the US. Less than Apple. As I’ve already pointed out many posts back.


          64. We’re going in circles. How many jobs do Amazon create in the US, and how many does Apple, etc etc…

          65. Irrelevant. Those other companies aren’t pulling the margins of Apple, either. Your moral relativism is ridiculous.


          66. “iFans keep repeating “Apple jobs are additive, Amazon jobs are substractive” like a mantra, with no proof, no source, and no reasoning.”

            There was plenty of reasoning. You just don’t want to hear it. It’s pretty simple: Opening stores and hiring retail staff that draws traffic to malls, so that other stores must in turn hire more staff is additive.

            Opening warehouses that in turn means bookstore chains and radio shack chains, etc. lay off staff is a net loss.

            The proof is in dozens of business articles, and state records about employee status and burden, etc.

            No-one is confusing the externalities. You are simply making a one-sided case, and others are trying to balance it.

            Of course Amazon’s own electronics are a “side-business”. It’s a retailer, not a producer. But, Amazon would love every household to have a Fire, Kindle and Echo. They would love to ship out 70M devices per quarter.

            However, the fact that Amazon can’t shift its mediocre products that are good for nothing but selling more “stuff” at the expense of high-street shops, is according to you an indication of Amazon’s wonderful focus on creating more warehouse jobs in developed countries, vs Apple’s terrible need to hire a number of assemblers (due its successful sales volumes) that is larger than the already large number of retail staff, managers, developers and engineers it also employs in developed countries.

            Your casting of the whole comparison in that way just doesn’t make sense; and your coming back to it a number of times no matter what other people explain to you, proves you are utterly tone deaf in your complete anti-Apple bias.

          67. And Apple still makes more of their electronics in the US than Amazon (or most any Android OEM).


          68. Your comparison is totally way off. Apple and Amazon have different core businesses, so the need of where to hire and quantity of staff would be different. Amazon core business is distribution so obviously they’d hire more staff in US or in other developed countries as compared to Apple. But the interesting thing is that what’s Amazon’s side business is Apple core business, and they both head towards Asia for this and it makes perfect business sense. Well in my view cheaper manufacturing in Asia would be definitely in Apple list but there are some other important aspects as well such as scale of manufacturing, huge capital expenditure for setting up own factories.

            I completely agree with your first two points but third and forth is a clear indication that you specially and nerds in general don’t understand business and economics.

          69. Well according to comments it was you who brought Amazon in this debate.
            Well if you’re a business major and understand business then you shouldn’t be comparing Apple and Amazon business. Two totally different core business.
            Apple now sells more than 250(or 300) million iDevices per year. Giving $10 extra on a single device…. You do the math.
            What kind of business degree you got???

          70. Actually, I brought up Apple being “principled” but not when it comes to working conditions in its factories, someone else brought up Amazon as a diversion (can’t remember who).

          71. It would seem that it was you (obarthelemy) that brought Amazon into the discussion as a diversion, in a response to aardman, and aardman actually didn’t mention Amazon at all. You inserted Amazon into the discussion. Here’s aardman’s comment:

            “The serious answer is that no one company can reconfigure an economy to suddenly make every worker highly paid. It couldn’t be done in France during the industrial revolution, it couldn’t be done in the US, and it couldn’t be done in China either. I would ask the Foxconn worker in China is he better off working for Foxconn rather than scratching for subsistence wages back in the province where he grew up? Are the jobs cushy? No, not by a stretch. Are they a net positive? Probably yes. Are wages headed the right direction? Probably yes too.

            It is ridiculous to have an economic system where everyone pays the prevailing and legal market-determined wage except you, the one most famous and profitable company. You can’t have capitalism for everyone but socialism just for one company. Even Thomas Piketty would say that’s foolish. And I’ve read his book and generally liked what he said and prescribed.”

            And your response:

            “Indeed, but let’s not forget that a job at home is better than a job abroad, and a “bare minimum” US job is much better than a “bare minimum” asia job.

            Mentioning Amazon’s employment challenges w/o also taking Apple to task for mostly creating very sucky jobs abroad (instead of semi-sucky jobs at home) is very partisan.”

            Your comment does seem to be the first mention of Amazon in the entire thread.

          72. Yet it clearly refers to someone else mentioning it first, it even says “mention” in my response.

            I suspect an edit.

          73. Sorry, not buying it. The simpler explanation is you lost track of who and what you were replying to and inserted Amazon into the discussion. I’m sure in your mind you were replying to somebody, but that didn’t happen in this thread. People make mistakes, just own it and move on.

          74. To correct your chart a bit:

            Company A:
            – replaces US retail jobs with fewer US warehouse jobs (and many robots)

            Company B:
            – hires directly and nationally and pays fair to very high US wages, both in product development, and in retail
            – creates an ecosystem around its products that has earned developers billions of dollars over the past 7 years
            – subcontracts to companies in a country (which is not the lowest-cost) that pays wages that are at or above most wages in that country (thus, the thousands upon thousands who apply for jobs at those companies in that country)

          75. Company B
            – creates mostly low-paid jobs in 3rd-world countries in prison-like conditions that have lead to accidental and exhaustion deaths, suicides, and riots, and would be illegal for Amazon to do in the US. (again, to get to $11 assembly costs on a $600 product sold at 50%+ margin)
            – again with the ecosystem ? Amazon pays suppliers too… a lot more than Apple does…
            – and all their extra US workers pay taxes, spend their money in the US, creating a significantly larger trickle down effect in the US

          76. “Amazon pays suppliers too… a lot more than Apple does… ”

            I think the suppliers would disagree.

            And Apple’s higher paid workers pay more taxes. So what?

            Wait… did you say “trickle down”? Oh my. You might as well have said “Yeah, but Hitler!”


          77. I know you’re not in the US and as such one thing you are totally missing is the presidential election cycle. Two of the leading Republican candidates are bashing Apple. This is not the kind of “all publicity is good publicity” that one could even remotely consider “positive”. I haven’t heard anything from the Democratic contenders so far, but there are a number of Democrats who also oppose Apple.

            One _could_ pass this of as politics, but when the politicians and politics reflect constituent sentiment it is more than _just_ politics.

            As I said earlier, the opponents of Apple have the best PR word on their side they could possibly have—terrorist. If you think this _helps_ Apple, you haven’t been paying attention (which I kind of think anyway based on your comments so far.)


          78. Actually, in one of the Democratic debates, Clinton and Sanders did indeed want to sit down with “some of the smartest people in the world” and work this out in a democratically viable way.
            Whether that is “Pro Apple” or “Anti Apple” is up to the audience. Personally, I think this is a far bigger issue than “Apple”. I favor searches when a warrant is issued by a judge, but only then. How this is achieved is a technical matter.

          79. That you don’t find it troubling that the FBI could force Apple to do something to a physical device that, as you often say, Apple doesn’t actually own anymore baffles me.


          80. Like I said, I believe in warrants. By the same token, I should object to the FBI having the means to search my house, my bank account, my credit card records, etc. The 4th amendment not only spells out that we cannot be unreasonably searched, but also how we can be reasonably searched.

          81. So, there’s no such thing as an uncrackable safe. But, if a company has the gall to strive for one and sells a bunch of them, they better make sure the government can crack into them so as not to embarrass the govt.

            Of course, that suits the other safe makers who regularly get embarrassed about their safes’ crackability, no matter how much they spend to advertise otherwise or have to suggest that no-one really wanted an uncrackable safe anyway.

          82. This is what the legal question distills to in my opinion.

            Don’t make this a competitive matter, other’s safes are just as strong.

            In the ’90s the program “Pretty Good Privacy”, written by a fellow named Phil Zimmerman raised a big bub-bub that led to a criminal investigation of exporting munitions. From Wikipedia


            “After a report from RSA Security, who were in a licensing dispute with regard to the use of the RSA algorithm in PGP, the United States Customs Service started a criminal investigation of Zimmermann, for allegedly violating the Arms Export Control Act.[4] The United States Government had long regarded cryptographic software as a munition, and thus subject to arms trafficking export controls. At that time, the boundary between what cryptography was permitted (“low-strength”) and impermissible (“high-strength”) for export from the United States was placed such that PGP fell on the too-strong-to-export side of the boundary. The boundary for legal export has since been raised and now allows PGP to be exported. The investigation lasted three years, but was finally dropped without filing charges.”

          83. “Don’t make this a competitive matter, other’s safes are just as strong.”

            The user has an iPhone, the FBI has super computers. So, no, there’s not competition there.

            And steel is steel, and encryption is encryption, so there shouldn’t be any competition between safe makers, either.

            But, apparently, some safes are safer than others. If not, and it’s all PR, then why is the FBI helping make an issue out of it? Must be to do with the way the safes are put together. Maybe the fact that the key is inside the safe instead of hanging on a peg at the “security company” which serves the interests of the other safe makes.

            So, what does the legal question distil to for you? That Apple should be compelled to let its keys hang on the walls of security companies, when its patently obvious those institutions are subject to all sorts of personnel issues, insecurities, breaches of trust, and outside influences?

          84. “some safes are safer than others. If not, and it’s all PR, then why is the FBI helping make an issue out of it?”

            Plus, I thought iOS was supposed to be a piece of cake to hack with all sorts of vulnerabilities it was like swiss cheese. Why the drama? Someone is lying.


          85. Good point. According to obarthelemy “iOS is the most vulnerable OS” and “that source code is riddled with holes”. Perhaps the solution to this whole issue is to simply forward obarthelemy’s user name to the FBI so they can get in touch, since obarthelemy seems to know so much about the vulnerabilities of iOS, clearly much more than the FBI. I imagine they’d pay a pretty good fee as well. I’m sure obarthelemy has already contacted the FBI and is working on this right now. What’s the tag for sarcasm again? 🙂

          86. Oh, that boat has sailed. The FBI already knows everything about Obart and that he can’t do it. They would have called him already.

          87. Let me guess… Trump and Cruz ?

            What I’m reading is overwhelmingly in support of Apple’s stance, and remarkably a-contextual (nothing about the China shenanigans, nothing about TouchID solving the problem for the government).

            And I’m fairly convinced that as users, people take away “wow, Apple security is really impregnable (never mind iOS is the most vulnerable OS, never ind TuchID) and Apple will stand up for us (never mind they’ve laid down in China), what a principled company (as long as it doesn’t impact the bottom line, cf working conditions).”

          88. What I am reading on tech centric sites’ is overwhelming positive. But as I mentioned the few polls that look to the general public, the sides are fairly split, some more one way than the other.

            Since as you say, this is a US only affair, your Chinese shenanigans reference is neither comparable nor relevant. Most everything I’ve read of any technical depth regularly brings up TouchID (usually comparing the relevance of the 5c vs newer models), so I don’t know what you are reading.

            I have no doubt my being here in the US vs you reading your usual fare of websites is a major difference of perspective, your own anti-Apple biases not-withstanding.


          89. A large part of the problem is that there is no comparable analogy or metaphor. Everyone keeps trying to say “It’s like this…” Or it’s like that…” and so far it really isn’t like any of those comparisons that I’ve read so far, either philosophically, mechanically, or consequentially.
            It’s good that Tim Cook so quickly put out his letter to help frame the position. Unfortunately few who will express an opinion will actually read it to garner a more informed position.


          90. I have know way of knowing intent, but it would hurt Apple’s business much worse if China pulled out over this.

          91. That’s easy, no one would be defending them. They will and should abide by the law. Laws on the other hand should be just and equitable.

          92. The law in question is the original 18th century statute and the case law following from it. No laws are being broken so far, what we are seeing is a lawful appeal of a court order in the hope of evolving the case law further. And the hope is that an open, civic-minded discussion leads to the case law, and the law in general, evolving towards being more just and equitable. So no, I am not defending Apple, but merely agreeing with the position they are taking. It might be hard to disentangle the two but there it is.

          93. The thread has gotten unwieldy. This was a response to what would we feel in the case of Google and MS, etc.

            I agree, no laws have been broken (yet, I think). I don’t know how far Apple can be compelled. Nor do I say you defended them, or that you accused others.

            BTW, just because a law may be old, doesn’t mean it’s not good.
            Having thought about this, over 24 hours or so, I lean on the “err on privacy’s side”. The math of encryption is out, the genie has left the bottle. The real challenge, as with the enigma machine, is how to crack it, not whether law enforcement has the right to crack it.

          94. Yup, old laws aren’t necessarily bad laws. The one that prohibits murder is still stellar in my book.

          95. “The real challenge, as with the enigma machine, is how to crack it, not whether law enforcement has the right to crack it.”

            Sounds like an interesting change of tune. Elsewhere in the thread, and certainly in responses to me, it seems you have been assuming law enforcement has the right to crack it. Now you “err on privacy’s side”?

          96. I say this because law enforcement does have the right to crack it, with a warrant.

            Abolishing encryption would not serve any purpose, in the end. Don’t think for one minute, that it’s out of the question, that new encryption techniques won’t have to go through a filter to see if they need to be classified as State Secrets. This genie has left the bottle, the next genie may not be allowed to leave the bottle.

          97. And they can crack it, just not as easily as they would like.

            The warrant you keep bringing up is immaterial (and whether we trust law enforcement to not abuse it in their quest to ever extend their powers is immaterial, too).

            It’s the ability at stake here. Like you said, one question is whether a company should be allowed to create the un-breakable safe. That has yet to be decided. Until it is, Apple should hold out. The issue is that there is no “back door” that will work only for the “good guys”.

            I think part of the reason you and I, and you and others, are going around and around about this is that

            “Either everyone gets security, or no one does.”
            (Bruce Schneier, writing for The Washington Post)

            Warrant or not, a “back door” (or facilitation tool or whatever) for law enforcement (however good the intentions) opens the door to a back door for everyone. Either no-one has the key (including Apple), or “everyone” has the key.

          98. I don’t know where you’re from, I seem to think you might be from the UK, but I can be wrong.

            Regardless, here in the US there are myriads of examples where individuals and companies are compelled to assist with the legal system, be it civil, or criminal law. The citizenry is obliged to serve on juries, for instance. In high profile cases, these juries are often sequestered, and the jury pool ends up seeing more incarceration than the accused. Companies and individuals also get deposed, subpoenaed and are compelled to serve in various capacities.

            Apple is no exception, especially since they are the implementers of the encryption in question. The question isn’t whether they “have to” but how much they have to.

          99. Correct.

            In the 1977 United States vs. New York Telephone case, the Supreme Court created a “three factor” test regarding whether the All Writs Act can compel a third-party to assist. The factors are: 1) the party’s distance, or “remove” from the case; 2) whether the government’s request places an “undue burden” on the party; and 3) whether the party’s assistance was “necessary.”

            In this San Bernardino case,
            1) the Govt says Apple designed, made and sold the phone and its software (and the software is blocking execution of the warrant), so it is not removed from the case. In the still pending Oct 2015 NY case before Judge Orenstein, Apple said it does not own, possess, or control the phone after it is sold so it is removed from the case. (In the NY Telephone case, the company owned the lines on which the govt wanted pen registers to be installed.)
            2) the Govt says Apple writes software as a business, so writing software to crack the phone is not undue burden. In the NY case, Apple said writing software to crack its phone is not something it has done or does. Apple said it does not offer anyone the service of extracting data from locked phones. (In the NY Telephone case, the company did install pen registers periodically on lines in the regular course of doing business, such as to check on billing, and for fraud, etc)
            3) the Govt says Apple is absolutely necessary to extract the data. In the NY case, Apple said it shouldn’t be compelled to act as the government’s forensic agent to disable security measures Apple built for the benefit of its customers. (In the NY Telephone case, the place to install pen registers was on NY Telephone property.) On this last one, maybe Apple would be willing to sign government-written software so it can be installed?

          100. Holy crap! You mean I could have been a lawyer? I feel the sudden urge to take a bath!

            All joking aside, it’s actually point #3 that I’m most sympathetic to Apple’s position. This is also tantamount to outlawing “military grade” encryption. I would prefer that be spelled out as law (agree or disagree) rather than hidden this way.

          101. something tell me that his stance as more to do with reassure the Chinese and foreign government about the US spying on their product than it has to do with morality or user protection.

          102. Grab a dictionary and look for the definition of ‘ad hominem’. It’s what little minds do when cornered with a valid argument–attack the person saying it rather than what he’s saying. You’re an expert on that. In fact pretty much all your arguments are ad hominem attacks.

          103. Let say that another terrorist attack hit the United States and the American People rebels against Apple and decide not to buy the next iPhone, and Apple stock and revenue crash, do you honestly believe that Tim Cook will continue to resist the government warrant to preserve his morality consistency as lets say Martin Luther King did during his time ?

          104. No, but what does that have to do with the issue at hand, Mr. Ad Hominem? You’re getting lost in the maze of your own convoluted, contorted argument.

  4. I figured the anti-Apple crowd would spin this into “Apple baaaaaad” territory. I was not disappointed. I think I’d be a bit more concerned about Sundar Pichai’s incredibly weak statements on this issue.

    1. This is a law enforcement matter. It’s on a different level than just “Apple”. Constitutions were written for this very purpose. That it involves tech (not just Apple) does not change that.

      1. Much of that is conjecture, we don’t know what exactly Apple is doing with China re: security audits. Sometimes I wonder if you actually read the articles you post. The reason China wants to audit Apple devices is to make sure there is no back door, to confirm what Apple has already told the Chinese government, that no back door exists. From the article you linked:

        China has been concerned that Apple devices like the iPhone enable the company—or worse, US intelligence agencies—to spy on Chinese citizens.

        “There were rumors that Apple built back doors in its devices, and let third parties have data and access those devices, but that was never true and that we would never do that in the future either,” Cook reportedly said. Lu Wei responded, according to the Beijing News, by saying: “It doesn’t matter what you say, you should let our internet safety department do a safety assessment. We need to reach our own conclusions to put the consumer at ease.”

        Being noble has little to do with this. Apple is aligned with my interests as a consumer, and Google is not. China is a complex situation, Apple will necessarily operate differently in different markets, but that doesn’t mean Apple isn’t pushing forward on personal privacy and security. The way to change a system is to get involved. When you do nothing, you change nothing. Will that lead to imperfect solutions at times? It sure will. But again, that doesn’t mean progress isn’t being made.

        1. “The way to change a system is to get involved. When you do nothing, you change nothing.”. That’s eminently arguable. Civil disobedience and all that…

        2. Also, you’ve got to get wise about subtext.
          1- Apple gave its source code to the Chinese
          2- that source code is the most hole-y around
          3- for good measure, Apple put its servers in a government-prescribed host
          4- guess what ?

          So Apple takes Real Good Care of its users. Except in China. And where else ?

          1. The only fact you’ve stated is that Apple operates servers inside China. Many companies do this because of the Great Firewall of China. I’ve actually done some work on a project for users in China, and we had to do the same thing.

          2. It’s so cute when you fall back to the old “learn to read” bit. I wonder if you’re aware of how often you do this? Hmm, let’s play anyway, from the article YOU linked:

            “What would “security checks” entail? Apple hasn’t provided any information on the matter and did not respond to requests for comment. But analysts said the most likely interpretation is that the company is giving Beijing access to its operating system source code in return for being able to continue to do business in China.”

            Ah, so “analysts said”. Quite the source you’ve got there.

          3. Fact is: Apple showed its source code to gov officials, and that source code is riddled with holes.
            It’s nice you’re suuuuuure the Chinese gov forgot everything as soon as they left the room and never ever will try to use that knowledge for nefarious purposes. Apple is white as snow then. I do wonder why they don’t let regular users see the source code, only oppressive governments. But I’m pathologically anti-Apple, seeing issues were there are obviously none ^^

          4. Where is your reference for that “fact”? Who said or verified that the Chinese security checks involved seeing source code? The Chinese government? Apple?

            The US Dept of Defense verifies plenty of commercial-off-the-shelf products for secure military use without seeing the source code.

          5. Of course neither. They’re being admirably mum on *that* subject. Lotsa money to lose.


            “Apple hasn’t provided any information on the matter and did not respond to requests for comment. But analysts said the most likely
            interpretation is that the company is giving Beijing access to its
            operating system source code in return for being able to continue to do business in China”.

          6. Then exactly how was that a “fact” or “The only thing we know for sure if that they’ve at least shown their source code to the Chinese authorities, anything beyond that is unproven one way or the other”?

            Just because analysts???

            It makes an absolute ton of sense that Apple didn’t leave if they didn’t provide any access to operating system source code, while calmly passing all the security checks.

          7. I’m sure you know better than the analysts…. and that Apple declined to comment because they have nothing to hide (they’re obviously very shy…)

  5. What makes the FBI’s position suspect to me is that these phones are not the terrorists’ personal phones, but their work phones. Their personal phones were already destroyed beyond recovering, undoubtedly because of incriminating evidence.

    One would think if their work phones had anything incriminating those would be destroyed, too. So this seems more a ploy by the FBI to get an actual backdoor created and a precedence set for further intrusion, both secretive and overt.

    I hate being so cynical about my government, but they have given cause for the cynicism.


    1. You’re exactly right. The FBI has carefully chosen this case in order to get a law on the books that is favorable to them. I find it hilarious that the anti-Apple crowd suddenly finds themselves on the side of Donald Trump.

  6. I am against Apple giving the FBI what they want, because of the legal concept of precedent. Okay, the FBI is only asking for the means to get into just one phone. But once that’s done it establishes a legal precedent for our government and others like China to use the precedent to ask for the means to get into other phones. I am by nature opposed to that.

      1. No, I’m restricting it to this one issue of people wanting and having a right to privacy of their own personal phone.

        Also, there are hundreds of ways for terrorists to communicate, besides encryption. One is steganography, and it’s broadly usable.

        1. Their own personal phone, over their own personal dwelling, person, PC, bank account, land line, employment records, etc.? A bit arbitrary to me, but okay.

          1. What are you saying? Everything is part a of wider network or platform that is not personally owned, so why make a stand for privacy here?

            I guess information is commoditized and already often kind of viewed as public domain, finders-keepers. Doesn’t mean some people don’t want to retain privacy where and when possible. But thanks to Google, that is becoming an almost unreasonable notion. To paraphrase Eric Schmidt: “if you didn’t want anyone to know, you shouldn’t have put it on your device.”

          2. Why make a stand for privacy here. We are not outraged when the legal system extracts information, legally, from other sources. What makes phones so special?

          3. Uh, is that a trick question?

            Um, because, the more “personal” that devices get, the more they require attention to detail and radically new approaches to the OS / Access / sandboxing, etc. so that they end up being personal devices where the term “personal” actually has a chance of carrying some meaning at all.

          4. Wtf?!

            Law enforcement can search your home, mess with your bank account, search YOU, cavity search YOU. No c Plaines out of you, but your phone is crossing the line?


          5. I already said, they can demand me open my phone. And if I don’t comply, I go to jail or whatever.

            They can also ask questions of anyone, and that person can play dumb — so, short of torturing someone to get an answer out of them, there is information that is necessarily going to remain beyond their reach.

            Either the suspect answers a question or he doesn’t. By extension, either he offers up the passcode to his phone, or he doesn’t.

            This isn’t, hopefully, 1984. So, hopefully, some information actually remains “private” (whatever that means). Most of us are hoping that extends beyond what is actually within our own minds. You have a problem with that?

            Why does Apple need to “open up the minds” of every iPhone user, just because few people on earth enjoy, exercise, care about, or have privacy in any real sense?

            So, according to you, nothing including your physical body is sacrosanct, only what is within your own mind; and even then, emotional coercion or some forms of torture are not out of the question?

          6. First things first. This is not about casual inspection. This is about inspection backed up with the legal weight of a warrant. Warrants are not issued in a cavalier fashion, and the court which issues one has accountability to a higher court should one be issued improperly. My biggest problem with the Patriot Act in this regard is precisely the warrantless nature of search.

            It’s an important legal debate that needs to be figured out. This is a legal constitutional matter. Like I said, this distils down to how strong we can legally build a safe. There is some precedent on encryption.

            As you put it so well, our privacy is not absolutely sacrosanct. The warrant, which issued by a court, is an instrument that proves that there is cause, in the eyes of the court, for a reasonable search and seizure. This is clearly permitted under the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution.

            If law enforcement can monitor my PC’s storage, my IP packets, etc., having obtained a warrant, then I just don’t see a difference. So, yes, everything is searchable, as long as there’s a properly issued warrant.

            This is more about what you are allowed to build, and ironically, is more of a freedom of expression issue. I imagine law enforcement can also claim that it’s also an obstruction of justice issue.

            The real debate is “Can you build an infinitely strong safe?”

          7. “If law enforcement can monitor my PC’s storage, my IP packets, etc., having obtained a warrant, then I just don’t see a difference. So, yes, everything is searchable, as long as there’s a properly issued warrant.”

            The difference being, of course, that if law enforcement can monitor your PC’s storage, so too potentially can your neighbour and a hacker in China.

            Yes, a good question is whether a company is allowed to make an un-monitorable device. So, you concede that Apple devices are inherently more secure, being as how the govt has to ask if their brute-force tools can be given every advantage?

            Also, a phone isn’t quite the weapon of mass destruction that a nuclear device is. Even rogue nations are not “allowed” to build them, let alone individual citizens of every country on the planet.

            Again, though, until all the questions have been settled and later laws than 1789 and 1977 have been thoughtfully and properly established, it behooves Apple, for all our sakes, not to throw the towel in and bend over. It’s like defending a trademark or copyright, or your virginity: you can’t later defend it if you gave it up to the first person who asked or just took it. So, that’s why a stand is in order.

          8. “So you concede that Apple devices are inherently more secure”…

            This whole thread you’ve been trying to suck me into an Apple debate. Here’s all I have to say about the matter. I don’t know if Apple’s encryption algorithms are any better than anybody else’s. Unless you’ve studied them, and the others, you don’t know either. What I do know, is that there are scores of devices and programs that would require years of supercomputer time to crack.

          9. Came across this

            Turns out there is a back door. It’s called firmware modification. That will allow FBI to brute force crack the encryption on their own time and equipment, as you describe. So the claim “Even Apple can’t break the encryption” is true, but the FBI can, with Apple’s help.

            Regardless of one’s position on the issue, this cannot be done casually.

          10. “If law enforcement can monitor my PC’s storage, my IP packets, etc., having obtained a warrant, then I just don’t see a difference. ”

            Law enforcement, with a legally obtained warrant, can monitor your PC and it’s contents, sure. But they cannot force MS to create a backdoor or decrypt your hard drive to get at your content. That warrant is between law enforcement and you, not said company (ie: MS or Apple).

          11. There’s a rather lengthy discussion about that. It turns out they indeed can force assistance, the question is, how much.

  7. Many people are treating this issue as if it matches closely what ATT and other telecoms have done in working in concert with the NSA. It doesn’t match closely at all.

    The biggest mismatch is the government’s new and future BIG data capabilities. Any agency will keep ALL your gathered data throughout your lifetime and in some cases make decisions and take actions from the significance it’s drawn from that data.

    In the future, governments knowing all things about us from school to old age, may do things supported by a Big Brother no_privacy and no_loss big data capability.

    Government has never had this power before in history. Not even close. The SS had to rely on primitive paper cards; what if they had today’s big data clouds?

    1. I agree with your concern. Then laws need to be enacted to protect from excessive governmental intrusion, if they don’t already exist.

  8. First, thank you Mr. Dawson for your fair treatment of this issue. As you wrote, this is a “principled stand” in an ugly case where it is easy to miss the issue at stake because “terrorism.”

    I would love to hear Techpinions resident recovering attorney weigh-in on this. My understanding is: a proper search warrant must specifically state what is being searched for and the justification for it. This case is an “open the phone so we can see what’s on it” order. A “fishing expedition” isn’t a valid warrant, as I understand it.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, Mr. Kirk.

    At any rate, it is wonderful to see an American company walk the walk and practice what it preaches.

    Obviously, that is driving the Android settlers nuts: “but China!” they shriek. “China!” exclaimed with an assumption of nefarious cooperation & complete co-opting; as if the fact that Apple hosts servers and sells hardware in China undermines Apple’s position on privacy.

    Extremely weak tea from the usual suspects.

    1. I assume the FBI wants to know who the shooter talked to and where/when he went/met. Given speculation that Apple has already provided any iCloud service data/backups to the FBI, I would think the FBI is looking for iMessages, FaceTime calls, location logs, and other iPhone data (i.e., Notes, Calendar) that answers those two questions that weren’t sent to iCloud, if any.

    2. “a proper search warrant must specifically state what is being searched for and the justification for it”

      First, search warrants can be very broad. Second, that’s not really applicable here. The phone in question belongs to the employer of the terrorist and the employer has given his permission for them to search the contents of the phone. A search warrant is, therefore, unnecessary.

  9. Congressman Lieu writes on his website: “This FBI court order, by compelling a private sector company to write new software, is essentially making that company an arm of law-enforcement. Private sector companies are not—and should not be—an arm of government or law enforcement. This court order also begs the question: Where does this kind of coercion stop? Can the government force Facebook to create software that provides analytic data on who is likely to be a criminal? Can the government force Google to provide the names of all people who searched for the term ISIL? Can the government force Amazon to write software that identifies who might be suspicious based on the books they ordered?”

    What if, in response to the search warrant/court order, Apple just signs the FBI-written software so it can be loaded onto this iPhone? If the FBI-written software is successful and the iPhone is unlocked, Apple removes and “destroys” the FBI-written software before returning the iPhone to the FBI. The FBI has to use its own knowledge to figure out a way to write replacement software to remove the delay between tries and allow external rapid entry of passcodes; Apple would not assist in writing this software in any way.

    Would this be a satisfactory compromise? Or would we/Apple still be on a slippery slope (how many tries do they and everyone else get?!)?

    1. There is certainly a point of undue burden being put on a person or company by law enforcement. But those are broad tolerances. Individuals can be compelled, for months on end, to serve on juries (often while sequestered), to be subpoenaed, deposed, etc. There are levels of cooperation as well. Providing knowledge is one extreme, requiring a hack on a device by device basis is the other.

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