Comedic geniuses Stephen Colbert and John Oliver met up for a talk on Colbert's The Late Show on Monday night, and the results were of course hilarious. The two were born out of the same brand of comedy, having both gotten their starts on The Daily Show, and both have also branched out to run their own shows since then. But Oliver and Colbert did have one more serious exchange, in which Oliver revealed his problem with America's encryption laws. Though he did a segment about the issue on his own show last night, The Late Show interview hit the real nail on the head in terms of what it is exactly that bothers Oliver so much.
America's encryption laws are certainly a complicated matter. The topic came to a head this year when the Federal Bureau of Investigation ordered Apple to unlock the iPhone of killed San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. The FBI asserts that Apple has what they need to complete their investigation (the information lying within Farook's iPhone), but Apple has been unwilling to let the federal agency bypass their implemented security measures. To do so would involve creating a special firmware that would allow investigators access to any iPhone, should they choose to search it. Apple CEO Tim Cook argues that this firmware is "something we consider too dangerous to create,” believing that it could fall into the wrong hands and thus endanger privacy on a universal level.
After spending a few weeks investigating the matter with his team, this is also the school of thought Oliver falls into. The Last Week Tonight host discussed how it goes beyond just one person's phone, with the potential to infringe upon basically anyone who uses technology. He highlighted this problem specifically during The Late Show interview with Colbert, saying:
... The FBI want Apple and all other tech companies to keep encryption just low enough that they can hurdle over it. The problem is, they won't be the only one hurdling if that happens.
Oliver acknowledges that it's a "risk against risk" when it comes to encryption. Those siding with Apple have to understand that Farook's phone will remain locked, along with all of the potential evidence on it.
He told Colbert, "There are terrible things that come with encryption. But there are also incredibly important things to come with encryption." When Colbert pressed him for an example, Oliver replied: "We owe the Internet to encryption." The Last Week Tonight host admitted that "there is not an easy side to be on." Even still, his position is clear: Allowing the FBI access into one phone opens up the channels for others to be breached, and that just isn't a risk he feels people ought to be willing to take.