With the ongoing legal battle about encryption between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), John Oliver, the host of the "Last Week Tonight" show, presented a satirical advertisement for Apple to help consumers understand encryption. The segment is worth watching.
First, some background. The FBI used a 227-year-old law to force Apple to build a "back door" into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, who killed 14 persons. The FBI believes that there may be information on that phone that could lead to other persons involved. Apple has appealed the court decision, citing several security and privacy issues. The back doors, really software, can be stolen and/or modified to make all iPhones vulnerable.
Legal experts warned that the 227-year-old All Writs Act is too broad, and Congress should act to clarify the law. Since then, we've learned that the FBI made access to the phone more difficult after a failed attempt to hack the attacker's iCloud account. Experts also warned that if Apple is forced to build a back there may be unintended consequences, including tech companies moving their operations and jobs offshore to avoid heavy-handed government surveillance and intrusions. And, if the government weakens encryption and security in products made by U.S. tech companies, then users (both good guys and bad guys) will simply shop elsewhere since many security products are already made abroad.
This week, we learned that Apple said the government is lying when it claimed that the company produced advertisements stating that encryption keeps out law enforcement. No doubt, there will be more disclosures and revelations. This latest claim makes the fake ad even more timely. No doubt, the final outcome of the Apple versus FBI court case will affect everyone.
The entire 18-minute segment is a good, funny, entertaining primer about encryption. The about-face by technophobe and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is priceless. The fake ad appears in the last two minutes: