Cybersecurity guru and Libertarian party presidential candidate, John McAfee, spoke with Black Enterprise about his view on the FBIâ€™s demand that Apple crack open the iPhones belonging to the deceased terrorists responsible for the December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, California.
â€œThe FBI is using an antiquated law in order to force Apple to put a backdoor in its software. This, I believe, is a misuse of the lawâ€”it was created in 1789, 200 years before the digital world even existed. I think the FBI really wants to get access to everyoneâ€™s phone. They can do that by having Apple write this software,â€ says McAfee.
The law to which McAfee refers, is the All Writs Act, a blanket provisionÂ allowing court orders to enforce judicial actions.
McAfee says this issue is more about the FBI not having internal talent capable of hacking the phone.
â€œA good hacker can decrypt that iPhone. I could do it. I donâ€™t know why the FBI canâ€™t unless the government doesnâ€™t have the talent. The best hackers in the world have [â€¦] purple Mohawks and want to smoke weed while they are working. [Thatâ€™s] not fine for the FBI. The bureaucracy has lost out on the finest cybersecurity talent,â€ he says.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies and personnel make the argument that it is important to know what other data may reside on those phones in the interest of keeping the nation safe from terrorism.
â€œIt’s important to recognize that the government is not asking Apple to redesign its product or â€˜create a new backdoor to its products,â€™â€ said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary at a recent briefing.
Earnest said the case was instead about federal investigators learning “as much as they can about this one case.”
McAfee isnâ€™t buying any of that. â€œIf they [the FBI] canâ€™t decrypt it, they can go to a private security company.â€ He says the consequences for Apple complying with the government agencyâ€™s demand could be dire.
â€œThe problem with putting in a backdoor into the softwareâ€¦the Chinese can find it, the Russians can see itâ€¦it makes us totally defenseless,â€ McAfee says.
Other tech companies have sided with Apple on the issue including Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
â€œTim Cook, he deserves all the praise in the world for doing thisâ€¦we should all stand behind him,â€ says McAfee.
As mentioned, McAfee is also running for president under the Libertarian Party. His wife, Janice McAfee, explains, â€œ[John] is now running as a Libertarian. Itâ€™s going to cost $70 million to get on the ballot, even Ross Perot could not get on all 50 states [as a billionaire] for the ballot. Smart for him to move to the Libertarian Partyâ€”it was a much easier way for him to get out his message.â€
In addition to assisting with her husbandâ€™s presidential aspirations, she has proven to be a vital part of McAfeeâ€™s business ventures. Their company recently released a new product, Everykey, which John calls “a f***ing game changer” for security. With it, â€œ[you] can lock down your phone, the house, all of your electronics with this little USB that you can wear on your wrist or on your key chainâ€¦if you lost your phone, you can remotely lock it,â€ says Janice.
Janice is also as adamant about the FBI/Apple issue, â€œI think itâ€™s insane that they would even try to demand it. We have this encryption so that we can all stay safe. Just because we need to get into this one phoneâ€¦.so that every iPhone all over the planet is vulnerable? â€ she says.