Digital animators in Taiwan have turned the legal case between Apple and the FBI into an animated movie short that clearly depicts key details and potential ramifications of the issue that even many industry pundits have had trouble grasping.
Next Media Animation, a satirical group of CGI animators located in Taipei, comically portrayed the FBI as a group monkeys unable crack into an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters for TomoNews
"The cheese stands alone," the video subtitles of the Taiwanese language clip state, portraying the corporate logos of Google and Microsoft rotating around a block of cheese followed by a monkey representing the FBI.
"Well more like the Apple," it continues, noting that in an open letter published on Wednesday, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook "vowed to fight a court order" requiring Apple to "develop a new version of iOS that lets the Feds bypass security settings in order to rapidly 'brute force' a series of password guesses to unlock its encryption."
It portrays iOS as being locked in a safe behind laser beams and several retractable walls, then depicts a master key to allow the FBI to access any data within it. "Basically, law enforcement wants Apple to give them a backdoor."
The video then references Cook's remarks that "in the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession."
In the video, the FBI monkeys leave the master key behind, where it's picked up by a thief dressed up like the McDonalds' Hamburglar (above).
"Apple's stance in defense of privacy and civil liberties," the video continues, "is not only important in the U.S. If Apple caves to the FBI's demands, think of what crappy governments like Saudi Arabia, or even worse, China would do with that power!"
Two skits then portray a man in Saudi Arabia using a master key to pull data from another man on his knees, who is subsequently beheaded (above), followed a bear symbolizing the People's Republic of China, which wields the key to extract files from four iPhone users who are then machined gunned to death (below).
Many just don't get it
"I think Apple should help the FBI get into terrorists' phones!" wrote Nellie Bowles in an editorial for the Guardian.
"I've already given up on all pretense of privacy by putting an always listening Amazon Echo in my bedroom (good morning, Jeff Bezos)," she wrote, "which I'm sure the NSA could tap into whenever it wanted. So in the same way I'd argue we legalize drugs, why not have a careful, legal pathway to break into a phone?"
"You can leave your door unlocked if you want, but do locksmiths have to make lousy doors for everybody?" -Bruce Schneier
After paragraphs of uninformed opinions often bizarrely phrased as questions, ("this is a phone built before Apple sealed off its 'back door,' so how much of a precedent can it set?" among them), Bowles then presented the opinions of knowledgeable experts.
That included cryptographer Bruce Schneier, who asked, "You can leave your door unlocked if you want, but do locksmiths have to make lousy doors for everybody?"
That same day, Spencer Ackerman reported for the same publication that "Authoritarian governments including Russia and China will demand greater access to mobile data should Apple lose a watershed encryption case brought by the FBI, leading technology analysts, privacy experts and legislators have warned."
Writing for the New York Times today, Nick Wingfield And Mike Isaac noted a "muted tech industry response" from Apple's peers, citing a mealymouthed series of tweets by Google's chief executive Sundar Pichai and noting that, "asked about Apple's opposition to the court order, representatives of Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook declined to comment. A spokesman for Amazon, which is not in the coalition, also declined to comment."