On today's BradCast, a whole bunch of stuff that's been happening that isn't related to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia --- and an item or two that are. [As usual, the audio link for the complete show is at the bottom of this article.]
First up, we catch up with the upcoming primaries and caucuses in Nevada and South Carolina with a look at the current polls on both the Republican and Democratic sides (some of which, if accurate, is quite surprising!) All of which offers another swell excuse to remind you about the oft-failed, easily-hackable, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems that will, incredibly enough, once again be in use across South Carolina this year.
That, despite the infamous 2010 election in SC which resulted in a guy who nobody had ever heard of (Alvin Greene) --- a 32-year old man who did not campaign, had no campaign website, had no job, didn't even own a cell phone --- somehow being named the winner of the state's Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate! Somehow, as we covered in great detail at the time, he managed to "defeat" a popular former Circuit Court Judge named Vic Rawl (who did campaign across the entire state!) in the bargain.
Those same failed machines will once again be in use, not only in SC for this Presidential Election year, but also in many other states as well, including Ohio where some are reportedly failing already. In Lee County, FL, in the meantime, a candidate for Supervisor of Elections and a cybersecurity expert are now being investigated by state officials after the pair released a YouTube video showing how easy it was to hack into the main County Elections website server.
And, speaking of hacking, we are joined today by Corynne McSherry, Legal Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), to explain the debate over Apple's challenge to a federal court order requiring the company to break their own secure encryption technology in order, supposedly, to help the U.S. Government in their investigation of last December's horrific San Bernardino massacre.
McSherry explains why EFF supports Apple's position here and opposes the "quite extraordinary" pressure by the Federal magistrate to force private companies to give the U.S. Government special, backdoor access to otherwise secure software systems. In this case, it is one of the shooter's iPhone's that law enforcement officials are still unable to unlock.
"I don't know about you, but I don't have a tremendous amount of trust in the government's ability to make sure that that backdoor that Apple builds for them is kept secure. We know that government databases are hacked all the time," she tells me. "There's sort of this notion that you can just have a golden key and only good guys will use it. That's not how it works in practice. Ask any security expert and they will tell you. Once you build it, it will be used for nefarious purposes as well as laudable purposes."
McSherry believes it is no accident that federal officials are using the very high-profile San Bernardino case to try and set their precedent. "I don't think they chose this particular phone accidentally. I think that they chose this to be the case because they're hoping that people will be distracted from the very real thing that's happening here, which is that this is the first time that a company will be required --- required --- to build code in order to assist law enforcement to build a back door. That's really the precedent that the government is after here."
Listen below to the entire fascinating conversation and, yes, a bit more on Scalia and why he was down at that wealthy businessman's ranch for a free vacation over the weekend in the first place...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)