By Haddon Libby

Last week, Mark Cuban said, “Every tool that protects our privacy and liberties against oppression, tyranny, madmen and worse, can often be used to take those very precious rights from us. We must stand up for our rights to free speech and liberty.”

Cuban was referring to the case where the federal courts supported the FBI in forcing Apple to write code that creates a backdoor around all of Apple’s security software.

In attempting to force Apple to do this, the FBI have used a 1789 law called the All Writs Act.  This seldom cited law allows the courts to do what they think is necessary when other tools are not available.


Despite his vehement opposition, Apple CEO Tim Cook struck a conciliatory tone when saying, “While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

Joining Apple and Cuban in opposition are the boards of directors for Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, AOL, Twitter and WhatsApp as well as Google CEO Sundar Pichai, anti-virus guru John McAfee, the American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association and countless others.

Despite widespread concern in business and amongst privacy advocates, most Democratic and Republican politicians support the FBI or are silent on the issue. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), a privacy advocate on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said, “If the FBI can force Apple to build a key, you can be sure authoritarian regimes like China and Russia will turn around and force Apple to hand it over to them.  They will use that key to oppress their own people and steal U.S. trade secrets.”  Representative Darrel Issa (R-California) states that this is an excuse by the FBI to more easily crack all smartphones and that the request by the FBI is unlawful overreach.

John McAfee has offered his team to the FBI at no cost and stated that they can crack the phone’s encryption within three weeks.  McAfee states that they would open the phone, remove the memory and copy its data which they would then hack into.  By doing this, McAfee would solve the FBI’s need while protecting the safety, freedoms and Constitutional rights of tens of millions of iPhone users.

To date, the FBI has not responded to this offer.

Privacy experts are concerned that there is no way that the FBI could keep this code from slipping into the hands of our enemies.  This means that some bad characters could listen to anyone, watch someone, read their emails and track their movements – all without their knowledge.

In case you are unconcerned with the FBI’s well intentioned yet misguided intrusion on your constitutional rights, think back ten years.  In 2005, Russell Tice, a now former intelligence analyst for the Air Force, Navy and National Security Agency leaked to the press that the Bush Administration was engaged in illegal wiretaps of U.S. reporters, political foes and others that the Administration deemed as unsympathetic toward their positions.  This was a clear violation of the Constitution.

The Obama administration continued Bush’s policies and faced their own whistleblower with Edward Snowden, the former Central Intelligence Agency employee and National Security Agency contractor.

Whether one is a Democrat or Republican, it is clear that those in power will have a tendency to abuse their positions if given the means and the resources.  McAfee has offered a solution yet those in power do not want it.  One must ask the question, ‘why’?

If you have a strong opinion in support or opposition to the FBI case against Apple, tell your elected representatives.  Whether it is Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, Representative Ruiz or another, each can be emailed directly via their websites.

Worth noting, John McAfee, 70, has thrown his hat in the ring for President of the United States and is running as a Libertarian.