John Oliver Takes On The Complicated Nature Of Encryption On ‘Last Week Tonight’

Features Writer
03.14.16 2 Comments

Apple is currently at odds with with the FBI over whether they should hand over the encryption schematics necessary to unlock iPhones in police custody (in this case, one belonging to the San Bernardino shooter), which could lead to breaches of 4th Amendment rights and huge security leaks. Now, the average person just likes to view their phone as a magical tool and endless source of information, and, usually, doesn’t like to think too much about the potential dangers we face from hackers and those who would use encryption tools for personal gain. However, John Oliver uses Last Week Tonight as a platform to explain some of the complexities of the issue, and that encryption isn’t just “the best way to keep people from reading your email short of making the subject line ‘Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Hilarious Joke From Uncle Walter.’”

Oliver explains that FBI is basically asking for a master key that would be able to get into any encrypted iPhone, and seems to have very little foresight about how that could be really dangerous when placed in the wrong hands, citing Apple CEO Tim Cook calling it “the software equivalent to cancer.” Beyond just setting a problematic precedent, it could open up a Pandora’s Box of security issues, and Apple faces a host of those already. As they say in the Apple commercial spoof at the end: “Apple: Join us as we dance madly on the lip of the volcano.” With such a complex issue, there are no easy answers.

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