William Barr is one of the men who helped build America’s surveillance state. William Barr is a man who has been demanding Apple give him an encryption backdoor. And William Barr, somehow, cares about your privacy.
In a recent speech, Attorney General Barr said:
Do you think when Apple sells phones in China that Apple phones in China are impervious to penetration by Chinese authorities? They wouldn’t be sold if they were impervious to Chinese authorities. What we’ve asked for is when we have a warrant from a court, that we should be able to get into those cell phones. That’s the double standard that has been emerging among American tech companies.
In 2015 and 2016, the FBI tried to get Apple CEO Tim Cook to hack an IPhone that had previously belonged to a terrorist. As mentioned above, much of the federal government has been begging Apple to create a way to bypass encryption ever since. Yet, the hypothetical event of this same action being done by China is reason to punish companies that associate with them?
We see the same thing happening with TikTok, which major politicians are promising us that a company based in California is actually run by China based on no evidence other than it deleting political content — as if the app is for kids to make dance videos with. The data TikTok collects is clearly spelled out on the website, compared to the federal government who was caught hiding the forms of data is was collecting until the information was leaked a decade after they started.
To quote Caitlin Johnstone:
To be clear, they’re not talking about banning TikTok because of data mining, they are talking about banning TikTok because of data mining that isn’t run by western oligarchs and intelligence agencies.
TikTok collects next to nothing compared to what the NSA, CIA, and FBI try to keep on you. FaceBook, while a slightly worse offender, still does not even come close. Yet, outside of a few (Mr. Enter for example) people have been entirely silent on government data collection while treating private data collection like the end of the world.
People often mock libertarianism by saying our ideology lets private companies act as government (which it doesn’t, but that’s another story). However, these same people scream about private data collection like it’s the first step in dictatorship.
The argument often made is that this company is a monopoly (as I’ve said many times, you guys ever notice how everyone who says FaceBook is a monopoly has a Twitter?), however, what monopoly is bigger and more obvious than government monopoly? For that matter, I can’t help but notice that some of those who make this argument (Sohrab Aharmi and Will Chamberlain for example) has started using alternatives to these monopolies — moving from Twitter to Parler, which Chamberlain previous mocked as “a shinny toy.”
The call for nationalization of the internet got stronger yesterday when Twitter was hacked for a brief time. In response, Senator Hawley demanded Twitter go to the FBI and Department Of Justice and have them do security for them.
Wait a minute, the federal government gets hacked all the time. Seriously, it seems like once a year a new hacking comes about where all new classified information is leaked — yet I’m supposed to trust them with Twitter’s security?
Of course, this just one step towards full on nationalization — which is what Hawley’s fans want anyway. Such a concept could make it so being banned from Twitter is the same as getting arrested — but that’s a different story for another time.
Here’s the simple fact: The government is not mad because your privacy is being violated, they’re mad because it’s not them doing it.