February 25, 2016

Government 'Safety' Initiatives

Tech giant Apple is "doubling down" in their battle with the US government over back-door access to iPhones.

As I write this, there's a report on NPR noting that CEO Tim Cook has compared the software the FBI asked for to cancer; asking for this for one phone means getting it for all, that use of the access can't be controlled, and that it will spread beyond this one specific request.

I appreciate that we need to fight terror, and that we need to keep Americans safe, but who gets to choose?

For example, we have had bills that would make it illegal for someone on a terror watch list to get a gun. Those bills cannot pass, due to NRA-fueled opposition (and the related self-preservation instincts of elected officials).  Why? Well, someone might be on those lists in error, and heaven forbid we take that chance and prevent them from owning a gun.

Similarly, laws have been proposed that would allow physicians to collect information about guns from people who end up in ERs, but we can't ask about that, even though information gained may help save lives.

Imagine for moment that, in the interest of protecting us, the government ordered companies to make only 'smart guns' -- that would be great, right? The gun could only been fired by the owner, preventing countless deaths.  How long would it take before politicians, lobbyists and everyone else went crazy fighting that?

How about food labeling? Want to know how much salt is in your restaurant meal? We're ok with allergen labeling, but sodium? Don't go there. It could save lives -- heart diseases kill thousands of Americans year after year - but we can't intrude, it's too costly, it's too burdensome on businesses, etc.

And tell me, why do we still allow cigarettes to be sold?

Yet today, we have the government ordering a company to make a very specific product,  to override an already very specific product they make, in the interest of 'safety' and protecting Americans from an unknown threat.

With the support of many in Congress, law enforcement, regular folks, and the very same business world that so vehemently opposes regulations designed to protect us from their products and their customers.

All to see if we can find any additional information about two criminals, and with complete disregard for the people who might be in those phones who have nothing to do with terrorist activities.

When will these multiple constituencies come together to spend an equal amount of time and effort on the threats we already know?