"Think of the government as your dad. If he asks you to help him with his iPhone, be careful. Because if you do it once, you’re going to be doing it 14 times a day."
On the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver weighed in on the ongoing legal impasse between the Department of Justice and Apple about the tech giant's refusal to build a backdoor to the encrypted iPhone that belonged to Syed Farouk, the deceased San Bernardino shooter.
Oliver explains that the FBI wants "Apple and the entire tech industry to have its encryption always be weak enough that company can access customer's data if law enforcement needs it." Even if this is the case, there are still a fair number of companies who make encryption products and apps that are outside the purview of U.S. law.
Not only that, but the federal statute the DOJ is using to argue its case -- -- the All Writs Act of 1789, which demands that citizens involved in an investigation do what law enforcement officers ask of them -- is 227 years old. That law doesn’t exactly take into account the fact, as Oliver says, that "an encrypted phone isn't really like a bank or a safe. If you penetrate a safe, you've only penetrated that safe. But a code to open a phone can be modified to open many, many more phones."
As for the idea being thrown around that the backdoor software is just a one-time solution, Oliver says he thinks that is unlikely, especially since in New York alone, there are more than 100 encrypted phones involved in criminal cases.
For more on the subject, including Last Week Tonight's incisive suggestions for how Apple should incorporate conversations about security and encryption into its advertising, check out the video above.