A kind, courteous notice for Apple Inc., Qwest and other corporate executives standing in the gap for US consumers
If privacy and technology weren’t powerful issues driving our society they would not be the targets of those who: love power, play with power and love legal leverages.
It does seem the only thing standing between most of us and unfettered information pillaging is a CEO and a crack team of lawyers. The corporations are in the most unfortunate position, as data custodians, to also be the guardians of a perceived new chattel.
What rivals the State for power are those who have more principal in human capital than they might have. The only way to balance this myopic point-of-view is to for them to have the same information of their rivals. I do believe this is the perspective of the National Security State, a shard of government amid elected government.
One of the issues company culture faces is many company heads do not view themselves as separate from the consumer public when they relate to the State. It has come up more than once that the National Security State doesn’t comply with the same laws the rest of our society is held to. That puts a wedge between corporate America and the National Security State, and all the consumer charges in their care, as well.
In the case of Apple hard-lining an FBI request to decrypt phones for access, or to break what they make, it is not just the executive culture at Apple who mistrusts the motives of the State. A majority of their consumer charges won’t ever trust national intelligence ever again after the Snowden leaks. Apple lost ground and consumer trust because they complied and went along with unqualified NSL requests without a warrant in the past, like many bullied corporations. Their simplified objective is to survive and to make profit.
Company executives with strong motives for profit and balance seek to acquire business from the US government. In doing business with the government they become prey to their motives for dominance over their business lifecycle. Among whistleblowers like, Bill Binney, Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden there are other less sung corporate voices who have also come forward. I think their stories are muted in intense, threatening legal attacks and attacks on their reputation for not serving the interests of the State. They are now gagged in arbitration and threats of incarceration. Warrant canaries are the only some of the public evidence their infrastructure is being violated by National Security legal orders.
I think of one Quest executive in particular who was jailed. This man didn’t really have an interest in complying with a national security request without a court order because it would have put his company in a position to be sued. I think he must have said to himself, “If I allowed this illegal thing to happen to my friends and family, I expect to be sued”. He feared betraying the consumers who trust him. Wouldn’t it be corrupt for a government to ask someone to do something illegal?
He refused to comply with the government request for data without a warrant. Then the government pulled their business from Qwest. Then they sought to place him in jail. They wanted him to fear the government more than the consumers. For him to take the fall for their illegal behavior is in their interest, not the interest of Qwest company or consumers. To be clear, it didn’t help Qwest or his customers for him to be jailed for 4 years. I would argue that it didn’t help the government either. He served his sentence. His conviction was overturned for malfeasance on appeal to clear his name. It was later reinstated by a different judge.
It is an unnatural balance that National Security maintains. Their poorly qualified demands for intelligence equity from US companies is sustained by force against the US people. They have made points repeatedly that it does not require our trust to ‘protect’ us from terrorists. They do not require our trust to dominate our information infrastructure in a competition over information fiefdoms. Their administrators communicate consistently they do not need our trust to violate our interests and interfere with ordinary law as use of force against their own citizen.
So it is no surprise the State oppositions to “encryption dogma”comes as an executive “must not”. Encryption stands to check them in a broken or corrupted system. This is a system where the courts reinforce divided interests of justice. Law enforcement regard policy of avarice and plots of men instead of the laws. Business leaders play dangerous games with 2 customers: the consumer market and the more coercive market, the US government.
If this were a time when we were more ignorant or more trusting then perhaps Apple would wholeheartedly help the FBI more with a lawful court order. However, the day has come where the path to compromise with the corrupt has met its limit. To comply with their request would lead to self-harm. Thank God for this fateful day.
Law enforcement must now moderate a self-correction or forge on against the public as an enemy. They are not the market. So we, The People, have the difficult task of retraining or correcting government structures we are compelled to endorse.
If I were a large multinational corporation, I would not submit to further aggression on my business. I would try to find a way to drop business with the US government for breach of interests. In fact, I would advise, with careful consultation with contract lawyers, those who have interests in doing business with the US government to drop their most treacherous government clients, the intelligence actors. They have proven they will attack companies and business leaders against the interests of laws we must comply with. Their reasons seem that they believe they are both separate and superior in constitution to a US citizen. I might also prepare to countersue for retaliation and provide both more legal and physical security to company executives. Spoiler alert: Refusing a tyrant is grounds for more tyranny. So hire a great strategist.
The National Security state is operating under a corrupting falsehood that they have a separate law and separate governance than domestic and International law. They are small in number in comparison to the rest of us. They will seek to degrade and undermine what they cannot directly or legally dominate. That sort of force should only be used on your enemies. They are not currently trustworthy partners in any venture.
We hope that will change because we are not their enemy.
The national security agencies isolate themselves and divide themselves against the US people as if we are not their neighbors, their friends, their teachers, their relatives and their bosses. They have more than a PR problem. They have a divided government problem. We will still be America without a corrupt militarized National Security State. However, will we still be America if we allow these agencies to continue to denigrate the interests of common and international law and domestic markets?
There is a range of choice and option. You can choose who you do business with.
Current government constituencies will not stop crying “National Security” prior to a power grab. So let the proverbial wolves-of-want get them for overusing the anti-terror excuse to exhaust your trust.