Steve Wozniak chimes in on the Apple/FBI debate

Steve Wozniak
Credit: Source: REUTERS/Tim Chong

At this point, it seems that there's truly no end in sight for Apple's ongoing legal battle with the FBI. While the FBI and the DOJ have made it clear that they want Apple to create a new version of iOS designed to bypass iOS security mechanisms, Apple has made it clear that it's not even going to entertain the idea. Quite the opposite, Apple CEO Tim Cook even categorized the FBI's request as akin to asking Apple to create the software equivalent of cancer.

Over the past few weeks, many tech companies have come out in support of Apple. Indeed, any time a tech figure of any prominence has been interviewed in recent weeks, the topic of discussion invariably turns to mobile encryption.

That being the case, it came as no surprise that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was asked for his thoughts on the Apple/FBI saga while conducting a Reddit AMA yesterday.

When asked point blank what his thoughts were on the topic, Woz responded as follows:

All through my time with personal computers from the start, I developed an attitude that things like movement towards newer, better technologies - like the Macintosh computer, like the touchscreen of the iPhone - that these were making the human more important than the technology. We did not have to modify our ways of living. So the human became very important to me. And how do you represent what humanity is?

You know what, I have things in my head, some very special people in my life that I don't talk about, that mean so much to me from the past. Those little things that I keep in my head are my little secrets. It's a part of my important world, my whole essence of my being. I also believe in honesty. If you tell somebody, "I am not snooping on you," or, "I am giving you some level of privacy; I will not look in your drawers," then you should keep your word and be honest. And I always try to avoid being a snoop myself, and it's rare in time that we can look back and say, "How should humans be treated?" Not, "How can the police run everything?"

I was brought up in a time when communist Russia under Stalin was thought to be, everybody is spied on, everybody is looked into, every little thing can get you secretly thrown into prison. And, no. We had our Bill of Rights. And it's just dear to me. The Bill of Rights says some bad people won't do certain bad things because we're protecting humans to live as humans.

So, I come from the side of personal liberties. But there are also other problems. Twice in my life I wrote things that could have been viruses. I threw away every bit of source code. I just got a chill inside. These are dangerous, dangerous things, and if some code gets written in an Apple product that lets people in, bad people are going to find their way to it, very likely.

Indeed, this is exactly the point Apple has been making for weeks on end. Apple has long discussed the danger involved in acquiescing to the FBI's demand, arguing that there's no telling where its newly designed software might end up. If Apple creates what effectively amounts to a backdoor, that piece of software could potentially compromise the security of hundreds of millions of iOS devices currently in use around the world.

Interestingly enough, while American's seem to be split down the middle on the issue, most every security expert, including former NSA and CIA chiefs, have all sided with Apple over the FBI. While the FBI's interest in accessing the locked iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists is understandable, the ramifications that would result from Apple developing a backdoor would be far-ranging and, as Apple initially pointed out in one of its legal filings, "dangerous."

While Woz's entire AMA is worth checking out, we'll highlight one more excerpt for you. When asked for his thoughts on what Tim Cook is doing right and wrong (outside of the FBI saga), Woz responded:

Tim Cook is acknowledging the employees of Apple and the customers of Apple as real people. He is continuing a strong tradition that Steve Jobs was known for of making good products that help people do things they want to do in their life, and not taking the company into roads of, "Oh, we'll make all our money like by knowing you and advertising to you.” We'll make good products. And you know, I started out as a hardware product guy, so I'm glad to see that.

I worry a little bit about - I mean I love my Apple Watch, but - it's taken us into a jewelry market where you're going to buy a watch between $500 or $1100 based on how important you think you are as a person. The only difference is the band in all those watches. Twenty watches from $500 to $1100. The band's the only difference?

Well this isn't the company that Apple was originally, or the company that really changed the world a lot. So it might be moving, but you've got to follow, you know. You've got to follow the paths of where the markets are.

Everything else, I'm very approving of Tim Cook, because every time we have a new iOS update, I'm very happy that it's doing things that really affect people. Like transferring calls from my phone to my computer, etc. I really love even the Airplay, and all that. So, I love the software, and I love the hardware, and nothing's letting me down. So I approve very strongly of Tim Cook and the new Apple. I dearly miss Steve Jobs too, but, that's all.

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