What's At Stake In Apple/FBI Fight: Who Gets To Set The Rules That Govern Your Privacy & Security

"Lots of people, mainly those supporting the DOJ/FBI's view of the Apple fight, have been arguing that this isn't a big deal. They're just asking for one small thing. Other people have tried to examine "what's at stake" in the case, with a number of the arguments falling into the typical "privacy v. security" framing, or even something around precedents related to privacy and security. However, Jennifer Granick recently wrote a great piece that does a much better job framing what's truly at stake. It's not privacy vs. security at all, but rather who gets to set the rules over how software works in an era where software controls everything.

We live in a software-defined world. In 2000, Lawrence Lessig wrote that Code is Law — the software and hardware that comprise cyberspace are powerful regulators that can either protect or threaten liberty. A few years ago, Mark Andreessen wrotethat software was eating the world, pointing to a trend that is hockey sticking today. Software is redefining everything, even national defense. But, software is written by humans. Increasingly, our reality will obey the rules encoded in software, not of Newtonian physics. Software defines what we can do and what can be done to us. It protects our privacy and ensures security, or not. Software design can be liberty-friendly or tyranny-friendly.

This battle is over who gets to control software, and thus the basic rules of the world we live in. Who will write the proverbial laws of physics in the digital world? Is it the FBI and DOJ? Is it the US Congress? Is it private industry? Or is it going to be individuals around the world making choices that will empower us to protect ourselves — for better or for worse?"