Re: Something doesn't compute
Exactly, that's the problem - everything they did was legal.
Er, mixed messages. In their domestic legal systems may be, but that was not the only 'jurisdiction' in play.
They got away with it partly because there was no such thing as TV or small video cameras. Being the perpetrator of secret atrocities is one thing, having those hidden acts publicised on CNN is another thing entirely and will spoil any villain's breakfast. Everyone knows that these days, which is why at the first hint of trouble countries seem to disable the Internet.
Hitler, had he been captured alive, would have ended up at the Nuremberg Trials like all the other senior Nazis did.
Stalin was publicly (and shockingly) condemned by his successor, which is probably as close to a public trial as a premier in Soviet Russia was ever likely to get.
The rule of law and order is paramount. If it is allowed to decline, you can end up with a Hitler running the country. Remember that Hitler was "democratically" elected by the German population in 1933 against a background of unchecked aggression on the part of his henchmen. Had the policing system in Germany been able to bring that aggression to a halt at an early juncture, history may have turned out very differently.
Ok, so a dispute about a locked iPhone is hardly along quite the same scale. But if Apple succeed in resisting and iPhones really do end up giving bad guys an impregnable means of communicating that's never going to be good for law, order and democracy. The FBI wouldn't even be able to rely on the Wire Fraud act.
There is a fundamental conflict in the Requirements that apply to the Internet.
First, we want the good guys to be able to quietly go about their business in private, free from snooping by other guys.
Second, we want the bad guys to not be able to quietly go about their business in private, we want them snooped on by other guys so that they can be prevented from killing people.
The trouble is that the technology we have cannot tell the difference between good guys and bad guys. To resolve that someone somewhere has to do some snooping, preferably before the next 9/11, but definitely afterwards.
Most of the good guys seemingly want no snooping at all, which is tremendously helpful to the bad guys too. All Apple are doing is going along with that (cynically, to protect their short term profits). I don't think Apple should be that worried - nothing else has stopped people buying a lot of iPhones, and being helpful to the FBI now and then wouldn't stop them either.
What is Tim Cook Up To?
Tim Cook, like everyone else, relies on the rule of law and order so as to be able to enjoy a quiet life. One wonders what Apple's attitude would be if the San Bernadino shootings had affected him personally. Ok so they didn't, but he must surely be sensitive to the need to properly investigate all aspects of the case.
I don't know how it has come to pass that the FBI felt it necessary to go with a public hearing to get a court order to compel Apple to assist. Did the FBI ask privately and did Apple refuse? It would certainly have been more to Apple's liking that this matter had remained private. Clearly the relationship between the FBI and Apple has broken down to the point where the FBI has decided to go nuclear. That's everyone's fault, including Apple's, but probably mostly the politicians who have failed to set a clear and reasonable framework in which law and order can operate effectively in today's technological world. The FBI, with the very puzzling FBI vs Microsoft case, haven't exactly been helping either.
Now that everyone knows that Apple could technically do this, they're going to be told to do so by a lot of countries with less restrained legal systems than the USA. For many governments its very easy for them to say "give us a policeman's back door to iPhones or we'll close down your business and block your servers". It'd be a much cheaper way of doing it than the approach China has taken. They've basically rendered phone crypto irrelevant because they control the services to which a phone can connect.