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Use This Last Week Tonight Segment to Help Everyone Understand Apple’s Encryption Battle

Technology is hard.


No matter how legislators and law enforcement may try to reduce it to simple “logic,” encryption is a complicated issue, and the fact remains that there just isn’t a way to make sure encrypted data is only encrypted when the “bad guys” come for it. Here to help us explain is John Oliver.

If you haven’t been following along, Apple is currently pushing back against the FBI’s request that they create a tool to unlock iOS’s toughest encryption. On one hand, that’d let the FBI access the iPhone data of the San Bernardino shooter and potentially get useful evidence and information. On the other hand, there’s no way to ensure that tool—or tools that would inevitably follow its precedent—doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

As much as we might wish there were a way for both sides to win, there really isn’t, especially since alternate encryption methods are so abundant that such a tool would do disproportionately more to undermine the security of the general public than that of anyone who really has something to hide. If you know someone who’s having trouble understanding this issue, try showing them this segment and hope they have a minimum Lindsey Graham-level of open-mindedness. That’s really not a lot to ask.

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Dan is a video game modding hobbyist and secret ninja who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa Brown, and his dog, Liz Lemon, both of whom are the best.