For most of us it has become a third hand, something we see as a tool we can’t do without. It, of course, is a cell phone (smart phone if you want to be truly exact) and for a lot of us it is an iPhone, a thing we couldn’t have even imagined just 10 years ago.
I’ve always said to anyone who’ll listen that you’re really carrying around a hand-held computer that also happens to make phone calls. I bought my first computer way back in 1995 and it couldn’t have done one percent of the things my phone does. I sometimes think we’re on the verge of having one that’ll make wishes come true.
If you lose or misplace your phone, the panic you feel can imitate a heart attack. Some of this is because they’re so expensive to replace but in some ways, it’s like we have indeed lost that third hand and we’ve really gotten to like that extra appendage.
Somebody will invariably ask you if you could live without it. Of course, you can live without it. You can live without everything but food and water. The real question is would you want to live without it?
The answer is no, of course. If you don’t have to, why would you? You can do everything on your phone from playing slot machines to keeping up with friends to paying bills. Everything you need is right there in your hand (or hooked to your pants in some fashion).
And we don’t want anyone seeing what’s on our phones. No way, no how. They might get into our health or financial business or…well, things we just don’t want anybody to see. That’s why we use codes, or fingerprints, that no one else knows or has to lock them. Leave our phone alone and we won’t mess with yours.
But lately a ruckus has been raised because a terrorist in San Diego used an iPhone and the FBI can’t open it to see if they can find connections with any other terrorists. The way an iPhone works, if you don’t know the four-digit code to open it, it will lock up after 10 tries and basically wipe the phone clean. The FBI doesn’t know the code for this phone and unless they’re unbelievably lucky, they probably wouldn’t guess it in the first 10 tries.
So, the FBI has asked Apple to create a program to override this function and let them access the phone. Apple has said no, not because they support terrorism (just underpaid child labor in China), but because it would put out a program that would allow anybody to access a phone they have no business being in.
Not surprisingly, people seem to be split almost down the middle about this. Some think the fight against terrorism trumps all and Apple should create the hack, as computer nerds say. The other half feels that privacy trumps all and Apple should stand their ground.
Personally I don’t think Apple should do it, but that’s mainly because they’re talking about the terrorist’s work issued phone and I doubt he kept up with terrorist business on a phone his employer could take back at any time. They already have his personal phone and while they, of course, won’t say, I’d guess they didn’t get anything off of it seeing how desperately they want to get into the work phone.
New technology always seems to cause problems, some big some small, before we get everything about it figured out, even with the rapid pace at which technology becomes obsolete. I’m sure this too will pass. I can remember thinking I was the coolest guy in Monroe County 10 years ago with my super sleek flip phone. Now we’d all be embarrassed to be seen with one.
But no matter what the technology, what we do with it, short of hurting other people, is no one’s business. All you people who always scream about government overreach, this is a moment you can shine in. Don’t pick now to be silent.