As the Court case between the FBI and Apple has gone away (for now), I offer a cautionary tale. To back door or not to back door – that is the question.
The King and the Apple
Once upon a time there was a Kingdom in the west ruled by a powerful King. The people were affluent and happy and ate a lot of apples. In the eastern part of the Kingdom was a man who made locks. His locks were so good that most people in the land used them, his locks had made him a very wealthy man.
Although it was a generally good Kingdom, as with everywhere, there were those that would undermine the security of the Land, would break into houses and steal possessions of others. There were even those that hated the Kingdom and would stop at nothing to terrorise it and its people.
One day the King visited the lock maker. The King asked that the lock maker make him a special key that would let him enter the houses of those that would cause him trouble. He promised that the key would only be used to open the doors of the worst criminals. This, he said, would make the Land more secure. The lock maker loved the King and wanted to do all he could to help. He wanted everyone to be secure, so he made him the special key.
For a while the King used the key to open the houses of just the worst criminals but it worked so well that the King realised that it could be used to open the houses of anyone he didn’t like if he had more keys. The lock maker wasn’t happy but the King had said that it would make the Land more secure so he made lots of keys for all his enforcement militia.
Although most of the militia were loyal to the King there was one man serving who was also giving information to the criminals for money. He gave them a key. Now the criminals could open all the doors. The people heard about it and didn’t feel more secure, quite the opposite.
Meanwhile in a Kingdom far away in the east they had also heard about the lock maker’s amazing locks and had been buying them for many years. However, the Emperor heard about the special key that could open any of the locks. Knowing that it could be done, he tasked all his wisest subjects to find a way to make a special key. It didn’t take long. Now the Emperor could open all the locks, including the locks in the western land.
The King in the west heard that the Emperor could open all the locks, he didn’t feel so secure anymore.
Later, a young lock maker’s apprentice heard from the girlfriend of the friend of a person in the militia that you could make a key to open all the locks. The young man was very intelligent and in no time at all had worked out how to make the key. He believed that everyone should know how to do it, so he wrote to every newspaper in every town in the Kingdom so that anyone could make such a key.
Now, no one felt secure, not the people, not the criminals, not the terrorists, not the militia, not even the King. No one bought the wonderful locks anymore and the wealthy lock maker went out of business.
However, in the land in the East a new clever young lock maker made an incredible lock that no one could open. Everyone bought his locks and felt secure again.
A few months later the Emperor of the eastern land stood before the young lock maker. The Emperor explained that if he could make him a key to open the new locks, that it would make everyone more secure.
The King in the West learned that he could no longer open locks, but the Emperor could, and tragically choked on the apple he was eating and expired.