Mr. James Comey
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Dear Mr. Comey:
It was with great interest that I read your comments to reporters on Thursday attacking Apple and Google for their recent moves to increase my privacy from your snooping eyes. According to news reports, you said, “I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is beyond the law. What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”
You are upset that Apple announced it will no longer unlock devices such as iPhones and iPads for government agencies. The company has taken steps to make sure it doesn’t even have the technical capability of complying with orders to unlock iOS devices, and a statement from Apple CEO Tim Cook was very direct about the company’s desire to protect the privacy of its users.
Google quickly followed suit and said it would start turning on encryption by default, too. You don’t seem to like this, Mr. Comey. And your spin was pretty interesting. You went for the oldest trick in the book. You said your concern was all about the children. That was hilarious. Here’s what you said, according to the reporters who were there:
“Google is marketing their Android the same way: Buy our phone and law-enforcement, even with legal process, can never get access to it. There will come a day — well it comes every day in this business — when it will matter a great, great deal to the lives of people of all kinds that we be able to with judicial authorization gain access to a kidnapper’s or a terrorist or a criminal’s device. I just want to make sure we have a good conversation in this country before that day comes. I’d hate to have people look at me and say, ‘Well how come you can’t save this kid,’ ‘how come you can’t do this thing.'”
That was a good one, Mr. Comey. I’ll bet your PR people were chortling as they came up with that. We used to use the same “for the children” lie when I worked in politics, so I have to say that I have professional admiration for the spin. It sells well to the suckers in the seats who still believe the things you’re selling.
But here’s the thing. I don’t trust you anymore. Seriously. I grew up thinking you and your buddies were the good guys. But you and the various other federal agencies — along with their friends in state and local agencies — have proven that I can’t trust you. Even if I still believed in a coercive state — a concept which I’m sure would confuse you, so we won’t talk about that — you guys do bad things. I don’t trust you. Lots and lots of my friends don’t trust you.
You lock people in cages for growing a plant. You attack homes and businesses because the people there conduct voluntary transactions with other people that you say they aren’t allowed to conduct. You steal money from people and call it “civil forfeiture,” even when you don’t even accuse them of a crime. You read our mail and listen to our telephone calls.
You see, I have a business relationship with Apple (and with Google to a lesser extent). They provide products to me that I have the choice of using or not using. And here’s the thing. You believe you have the right to force me to obey you. You believe you have the right to force everybody to obey you. You have always been happy to enforce your orders with guns.
You see, technology is slowly helping to make your guns less effective. If you hadn’t been so out of control and dictatorial over the years — not necessarily you personally, but you and the goons you work with enforcing unjust and immoral rules against us — we might trust you to have the power to look around at more stuff. I used to trust you. But you’ve abused and destroyed my trust. It’s completely gone.
Apple and Google have an incentive to keep me happy. I’m their customer and so are millions and millions of other people who also don’t trust you. Your guns are still pretty impressive, but you are slowly losing your power to force everyone to obey you. I realize this upsets you, because using force to get your way is all you know.
Sadly, the time is going to come when you can’t find a real criminal — a kidnapper or murderer or thief — because I’ve been forced to lock my devices to keep you out. When that day gets here, though, don’t blame me. Don’t blame Apple. Don’t blame Google.
When that day gets here, blame yourself. You and your fellow goons.
You guys are the reason we can’t trust anyone with our data. So when your theoretical child is kidnaped or dies, you go look in the mirror and realize that you’re the one responsible.
You’ve abused our trust and we’re going to do everything in our power to protect our information from you. If some criminals get to protect themselves, too, as a result, that’s unfortunate.
But you guys created this. Don’t blame anyone else.