Our Data...Their Lives!

Now that the genie is out of the bottle (no thanks to Tim Cook) the fiction of cyber-security takes another hit. Accordingly, let's take a good look at Apple and its idolatrous entourage. While they cry foul about the perils of unlocking critical data on their multi-encrypted phones, Apple remains a major player in creating ultra-sophisticated communication systems, and programs that have revolutionized our culture. Yet, they claimed they couldn't wrap their self-absorbed head around helping us decode the information on a device that may reveal important clues to the San Bernardino massacre and perhaps, many other murderous crimes.

If we are seriously engaged in a war against ISIS, then what has happened to the precedent established during the wars (particularly WWII) during which government requisitioned factories and converted them to manufacturing military related equipment? Instead of understanding the parallel, Tim Cook makes specious, quasi-ethical arguments about security. But one must wonder what security is so paramount that it takes precedence over winning this war? People's precious photos? The paltry savings accounts and credit scores of the struggling majority in this country?

Even the loss of one's digital identity pales compared to halting the status quo; the beheadings, the ransacking of history, and the brutal displacement of the "unbelievers." Instead, an iconic company like Apple pretends that the privacy implications involved in retrieving data on smart phones trumps efforts to undermine an enemy threatening the very freedom that enables Apple to exist in the first place.

Perhaps, all it would take would be a terrorist-incited shoot-out in a Silicon Valley cafeteria to turn Tim Cook's head around and catch the whiff of bloodshed in his own domain. But like many ensconced in the ethers of their phones, pads and tablets, Apple seems impervious to our sentient, existential realities. As far as they're concerned it's basically all in the 'cloud' these days.

The fact, as pointed out in the New Yorker article, that studios rely on these memes to the detriment of reality based, human stories of nuance, purpose, and grounded inspiration only highlights the mainstream cultural degradation that we are enduring in these times. When America’s champion product...the movies... becomes so wedded to the almighty dollar and the caprices of international investments and their demands then it is no wonder that education in our country has become martyred as a result.

Adding insult to injury, Apples' arrogance is underscored by the pernicious exploitation of its labor force in China, and the use of tax shelters that save them billions at the American taxpayer’s expense. According to the New York Times: “Apple successfully sought the holy grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars while claiming to be a tax resident nowhere.”

This is morally intolerable, and is another dagger in the putative business ethics of our country, and perhaps the world at large. We should understand that Apple's self-serving and surreptitious antics are no better than those of the thugs on Wall Street. Calling in lawyers, the U.S. Congress, or perhaps the Supreme Court, to settle this dispute certainly does not contribute to an expeditious end to ISIS, and its monstrous attempts to defeat western civilization...ergo: anybody who isn't them.

 Tim Cook is concerned with the precedent set in creating 'back doors' to the information on Apple's smart phones and other products. But what about the precedent of corporations making unilateral decisions about the kind of world we live in? Understandably, laying more access to our private information at the feet of our government intelligence agencies that already have billions of dollars of resources at their disposal is not the best of all possible worlds. On the other hand, we the people have practically no control over how corporations like Apple affect, and often overwhelm our lives, or, in fact, what they do with our data.

In our favor, as opposed to the impenetrable fortresses like Apple, we still do live in a theoretical democracy, and have the ability to, at least, influence who sits at the helm of power, what policies become law, and if, how, and when one's private information can be sacrificed for the greater good. We can leave our lives to a self-serving "corpocracy" like Apple, and its Silicon Valley compatriots. Or, we can exercise our political potential to keep these colossal communication companies from dominating our data, as well as our environments, economics, and culture--at least what's left of it that isn't encrypted!

~Marc Twang


See Marc Twang’s Essays Archive by clicking here.


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