18 March 2016

The Apple Fight Is About All of Us & Encryption, Privacy Are Larger Issues Than Fighting Terrorism, Clarke Says & Fact-checking a comparison of gun deaths and terrorism deaths 17&14MAR16&5OKT15

OUR government has not been shy about using fear of terrorist attacks as justification for weakening our civil liberties. If the American government is actually interested in keeping us safe they might consider the risk we face from terrorism vs gun violence in the U.S. and direct their efforts to addressing the greater threat first. There is no legal or moral justification for the government ordering apple to create a program to open locked iphones and we should all stand with apple in their refusal to do so. Here are a couple of pieces on the iphone case from the ACLU and +NPR and a piece on the number of Americans killed in the last decade in the U.S. by terrorism and by gun violence from +PolitiFact ......
A joint statement from Access Now, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Apple is engaged in a high-profile battle against a court order demanding it write, sign, and deploy custom computer code to defeat the security on an iPhone. As civil liberties groups committed to the freedom of thought that underpins a democratic society, this fight is our fight. It is the fight of every person who believes in a future where technology does not come at the cost of privacy or individual security and where there are reasonable safeguards on government power.
This is a fight that implicates all technology users. There are already bad actors trying to defeat the security on iPhones, and an FBI-ordered backdoor will only assist their efforts. Once this has been created, malicious hackers will surely increase their attacks on the FBI and Apple, hoping to ferret out clues to this entrance route — and they may well succeed.
The precedent created by this case is disturbing: It creates a new pathway for the government to conscript private companies into building surveillance tools. If Apple can be compelled to create a master key to unlock this iPhone, then little will prevent the government from ordering any company to turn its products into tools of surveillance, compromising the safety, privacy, and security of everyone.
Our organizations are committed to defending the security and human rights of everyday people whose data will be implicated by this shortsighted policy.
We call on the Obama administration to heed the advice of neutral security experts, engineers, and even his own advisors who have affirmed the dangers inherent in the order issued to Apple. We urge them to reject the calls of those who seek to undermine our security, whether through backdoors into our software, master keys to unlock our digital data, or pressure on companies to downgrade our security. 
Over 100,000 people have called for President Obama to stand up for security in our devices through It’s time for the president to be accountable to them, and to all of us.
We ask our supporters to join this call by sharing this graphic with President Obama and the rest of the world.  SHARE ON TWITTER
President Obama on an iPad
In this fraught debate, we must let facts and reason prevail. We cannot compromise on our security or liberty. 
ACLU logo
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Electronic Frontier Foundation logo
David Greene talks to former national security official Richard Clarke about the fight between Apple and the FBI. The FBI wants an iPhone that was used by one of the San Bernardino shooters unlocked.

In the long debate over an iPhone, there has been a voice missing - President Obama's. It is not clear how he feels about the Justice Department demanding that Apple help unlock the phone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. But over the weekend, Obama did say this.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If, technologically, it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there's no key - there's no door at all - then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?
GREENE: Disrupting terrorist plots was Richard Clarke's mission for years. And we're adding his voice this morning in the ongoing debate over whether Apple should design a way for the government to break into that iPhone. Richard Clarke led counterterrorism efforts for two presidents - Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
RICHARD CLARKE: For nine years, I was the senior counterterrorism official in the U.S. government. And I went to bed every night worrying about terrorist attacks. Had I done enough to stop a terrorist attack that might be out there that I don't know about? I know what the counterterrorism feels like because I was there. But I also operated within limits. And within the United States government, we've decided long ago that there are limits on what we're going to do in the war against terrorism. Under the Obama administration, for example, we've said we're not going to torture people. You know, we could, at the far extreme to make the FBI's job easier, put ankle bracelets on everybody so that we'd know where everybody was all the time. That's a ridiculous example, but my point is encryption and privacy are larger issues than fighting terrorism.
GREENE: But can you just explain why you would compare, you know, a company helping the government design a way to unlock an iPhone to something extreme as torture and ankle bracelets? I mean, that sounds like a very extreme jump.
CLARKE: No, the point I'm trying to make is there are limits. And what this is is a case where the federal government, using a 1789 law, is trying to compel speech. And courts have ruled in the past, appropriately, that the government cannot compel speech. What the FBI and the Justice Department are trying to do is to make code writers at Apple - to make them write code that they do not want to write that will make their systems less secure.
GREENE: And why do you say that's compelling speech, just so I understand that?
CLARKE: Well, they're compelling them to write code. And the courts have ruled in the past that computer code is speech.
GREENE: Some have said that while this seems like it could be a dangerous precedent, it's not because Apple has had to relent to pressure in the past and has been willing to do so. And I've been reading about, you know, last year when China - the Chinese government - requested data on a few thousand iPhones and Apple was willing to offer it. I mean, that sounds to some, I would imagine, like a scarier thing than helping the U.S. government unlock one iPhone.
CLARKE: Apple helps law enforcement organizations in the United States and Apple helps law enforcement organizations overseas when they have a duly authorized request for material that Apple has. Apple doesn't have this material. If it were in the Cloud, if the FBI and the San Bernardino County hadn't made a mistake on the way they treated this phone, this information would be in the iCloud and Apple would allow access to that because Apple has that information.
GREENE: What do you know about the debate within the Obama administration? It's been reported that there really is a fierce debate over how to handle this.
CLARKE: Well, I don't think it's a fierce debate. I think the Justice Department and the FBI are on their own here. You know, the secretary of defense has said how important encryption is when asked about this case. The National Security Agency director and three past National Security Agency directors, a former CIA director, a former Homeland Security secretary have all said that they're much more sympathetic with Apple in this case. You really have to understand that the FBI director is exaggerating the need for this and is trying to build it up as an emotional case, organizing the families of the victims and all of that. And it's Jim Comey and the attorney general is letting him get away with it.
GREENE: So if you were still inside the government right now as a counterterrorism official, could you have seen yourself being more sympathetic with the FBI in doing everything for you that it can to crack this case?
CLARKE: No, David. If I were in the job now, I would have simply told the FBI to call Fort Meade, the headquarters of the National Security Agency, and NSA would have solved this problem for them. They're not as interested in solving the problem as they are in getting a legal precedent.
GREENE: Wow, that sounds like quite a charge. You're suggesting they could have just gone to the NSA to crack this iPhone but they're presenting this case because they want to set a precedent to be able to do it in the future?
CLARKE: Every expert I know believes that NSA could crack this phone. They want the precedent that the government can compel a computer device manufacturer to allow the government in.
GREENE: Richard Clarke, thanks so much for talking to us. We appreciate it.
CLARKE: Thank you, David.
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Viral image
Number of Americans killed by terrorism in the last decade: 24. Number of Americans killed by guns in the last decade: 280,024.
— Viral image on Thursday, October 1st, 2015 in a Facebook post

Fact-checking a comparison of gun deaths and terrorism deaths

A viral image compares the number of gun-related deaths and terrorism-caused deaths in the United States in the past decade. (Photo from NowThis)

In the wake of the Oct. 1 shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, President Barack Obama tasked the media to put the number of gun violence-related deaths into perspective.
"Have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who've been killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade and the number of Americans who've been killed by gun violence, and post those side by side on your news reports," he said in his address on the shooting. "We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?" 
Obama's underlying point was to highlight the lack of resources and legislative action taken on gun violence. Some have questioned the merit of such a comparison -- for example, critics have pointed out that cigarettes kill more people than guns. We're not weighing in on that debate. Rather, we're looking just at the data. 
Multiple outlets obliged (though each came up with slightlydifferent numbers). Several readers asked us to check out one specific comparison widely shared on Facebook and Twitter. It was created by NowThis, a New York-based news company that produces content specifically for social media.
The image says that 24 Americans have been killed by terrorism in the last decade, while 280,024 Americans were killed by guns.
While NowThis’ numbers aren’t perfect, the overarching point is accurate. There have been far more deaths from gun violence than from terrorist attacks.
Walking through the math
Let’s start with the tally for terrorist-related deaths. NowThis senior editorial producer Versha Sharma told PolitiFact that the 24 figure refers to the number of U.S. citizens killed by terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, and does not include deaths abroad.
Sharma acknowledged that this could have been made clear in the graphic. But she maintained that it’s more apt to compare domestic gun deaths to domestic terrorism deaths. Counting terrorist attacks abroad, she said, would make it an apples to oranges comparison.
The number comes from the nonpartisan think tank the New America Foundation’s count of lethal jihadist attacks on U.S. soilfrom 2005 to 2015. It includes for example the four people killed during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and the 13 deaths from the Fort Hood shooting in 2009.
To get to 280,024 gun deaths, NowThis compiled data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System and the Mass Shooting Tracker, a crowd-sourced project that tallies deaths and injuries in mass shootings.
According to the CDC, the number of violent gun deaths between 2005 and 2013 (the latest year on record) was 279,976. That includes suicides, homicides, and police-related shootings. Mass Shooting Tracker counts 389 mass shooting gun deaths in 2014 and 375 so far in 2015.
There are, however, a few issues with these numbers.
For starters, a spokesperson for New America told us it would have been more accurate to include lives lost to both jihadist and non-jihadist extreme violence (47 deaths from 2005 to 2015) for a total count of 71 deaths from terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
Secondly, Mass Shooting Tracker, as the name implies, only tracks deaths from mass shootings, defined by the group as when four more people are shot in an event. If we look at all gun-related deaths as the CDC does from the past two years, the numbers are much higher.
According the nonprofit project the Gun Violence Archive, there were 12,562 gun deaths in 2014 and 9,959 in 2015 thus far. That’s a grand total of 301,797 firearm-related deaths in the past decade, compared to 71 deaths from domestic acts of terrorism.
If we factor in terrorist attacks overseas, the comparison is still stark. From 2004 to 2014, 303 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks worldwide, according to State Department reports. During that same time frame, 320,523 Americans were killed because of gun violence. Here’s a breakdown:  
Our ruling
A viral image says the number of Americans killed by terrorism in the last decade is 24, while the number of Americans killed by guns in the last decade is 280,024.
NowThis, the creators of the image, told us they only counted lives lost to domestic jihadist attacks, though the image doesn’t specify that. If we look at deaths due to all extremist attacks on U.S. soil, the number goes up to 71. A more accurate count for gun deaths between 2005 and 2015 is 301,797.
Though the image’s numbers are slightly off, that doesn’t undercut the point: guns have claimed many more lives than terrorist attacks. We rate the claim Mostly True.
About this statement:
Published: Monday, October 5th, 2015 at 11:55 a.m.
Researched by: Linda Qiu
Edited by: Angie Drobnic Holan
Subjects: GunsTerrorism


Phone and email interviews with Versha Sharma, senior editorial producer at NowThis, Oct. 2, 2015
Email interview with David Sterman, program associate at the New America Foundation, Oct. 2, 2015
Facebook, NowThis post, Oct. 1, 2015
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,National Vital Statistics System search, accessed Oct. 2, 2015
U.S. Department of State, Terrorism Deaths, Injuries and Kidnappings of Private U.S. Citizens in 2010, accessed Oct. 2, 2015
U.S. Department of State, Terrorism Deaths, Injuries and Kidnappings of Private U.S. Citizens in 2009, accessed Oct. 2, 2015
U.S. Department of State, Terrorism Deaths, Injuries and Kidnappings of Private U.S. Citizens 2007, accessed Oct. 2, 2015
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code, accessed Oct. 2, 2015