The section of the post about Apple and FBI first appeared on the Quartz Daily Brief. I highly recommend signing up for it.
Apple’s battle with the FBI is being talked about as a defining moment for privacy. And it is. But the real reason why is obscured by both sides’ rhetoric.
The FBI wants Apple’s help breaking into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple has helped the government get data off locked iPhones many times in the past. But whereas on older iPhones it could do that just by bypassing the phone’s built-in security, this time it would have to write a new, less secure operating system and put it on the phone. That, says Apple, marshaling an impressive-sounding string of legal reasons, is what makes this case different—a precedent that, once set, will bend tech firms to the government’s every future whim.
But you might still ask: Is it fundamentally different? That’s the doubt the government wants to sow: Apple has drawn a line in the sand here, but couldn’t it have drawn it anywhere?
And in a sense, the government is right. For all Apple’s fancy legal arguments, something feels disingenuous in claiming that it’s OK to betray your customers’ privacy to the FBI using one technique and not another.
Yet the government’s claim is disingenuous too. It implies that everything is a continuum and there are no matters of principle. The reality, however, is that everything we now consider a matter of principle—from the ban on insider trading all the way back to “thou shalt not kill”—was once a line drawn in the sand, and only over time became a mighty barrier. Principles don’t get made until someone says “enough.”
Apple has now said “enough.” Other tech companies are joining in. Principles aren’t enshrined because of a legal wrangle over a technological quirk. They’re enshrined because someone chooses to stand and fight for them.—Gideon Lichfield
The Indian Context
The same concept of “saying enough” can be applied to the Indian scenario. In reference to the recent agitations by the Jat community for reservation, a few questions come to the mind:
- There is no doubt that the government should treat the underprivileged differently than the rest. But who defines what constitutes being “underprivileged”?
- The concept of reservation is founded in the desire to help those who are socially and/or economically disadvantaged. At the time of drafting the Constitution, that segregation was on the basis of caste.
Doesn’t a society change with changing time? Isn’t it then essential to reorient the policy of reservation towards those who are disadvantaged in today’s India?
- Violence is not the answer. It’s never the solution, and more often than not, it is the source of other problems. Should the government bow down just because people took to streets? Doesn’t it give them an easy way out of problems? Doesn’t it set a very wrong precedence for all the future issues? Hasn’t it already?
- How influential is the vote bank politics when it comes to issues of social change? Has the tendency to vote your caste become the greatest social evil of modern India? Should it continue to find a place in the Parliament? If not, whose responsibility is it to enforce a change?
In whose hands does the power lie? Who is it that needs to stand up and say ENOUGH!!
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