Tags: Donald Trump | donald trump | apple | fbi | privacy

Why Trump Is Wrong About Apple

Why Trump Is Wrong About Apple

By Wednesday, 24 February 2016 05:37 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Donald Trump should reconsider his Apple boycott. What he wants Apple to do will actually undermine his quest to “Make America Great Again.”

Shipping American jobs overseas won’t make America great again, as Trump knows well. He correctly says decades of allegedly “free” trade destroyed our manufacturing base.

Why, then, attack the one industry where the U.S. still dominates? Apple is the world’s largest company because the whole world buys its products. A billion people around the globe happily buy and use Apple (AAPL) technology.

Isn’t the iPhone assembled overseas? Yes, it is. But it’s designed in the U.S. by American engineers. U.S. companies like Intel (INTC) and Corning (GLW) make iPhone components in U.S. factories. American programmers write iPhone software.

All those jobs are at risk if the world stops buying Apple products. So are the thousands of Americans small businesses who make apps and accessories for the iPhone.

The rest of the world wants to avoid one American product: our massive “collect it all” intelligence community. We spy on everybody, everywhere. They know it, too, thanks to Edward Snowden.

They also know the National Security Agency implants surveillance tools in some American products, but no one knows which ones. So the safe bet is to not buy American technology. This is why international sales are plummeting at companies like Cisco (CSCO) and IBM.

If Apple complies with the FBI’s request, all doubt will be gone. Everyone will know that the American intelligence agencies can bully their way into otherwise secure American technology. If the FBI can do it to Apple, it can do it to any other American company.

Foreign phone buyers know the iPhone gives them an additional layer of protection from their own governments, too, not to mention criminal hackers and identity thieves.

Cracking the iPhone’s security features, even once, will give foreign users reason to stop buying our technology and go with home-grown products. We will lose jobs and America will be even further from great again.

Now, you might say all this is correct but the fight against terrorism is even more important. “We need to get into that phone,” said Trump, and find out if the San Bernardino plotters had accomplices.

This phone isn’t likely to contain that information. It was Syed Farook’s work phone, issued to him by San Bernardino County. He and his wife physically destroyed their personal phones before their shooting spree. The fact they didn’t destroy the county phone suggests they didn’t put any evidence on it.

As Trump well knows, both business and government are a balance of costs and benefits.

On one hand we have the very slight possibility that breaking into this iPhone will help the San Bernardino investigation. Balance that against the certainty of damage to the American economy – not to mention everyone’s lost privacy – and I think the answer is obvious.

Trump is a smart man with a blind spot on this question. Fortunately, he’s also not afraid to change his mind and reverse course. We should all hope he does.

Patrick Watson is an Austin-based financial writer. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickW

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Donald Trump should reconsider his Apple boycott. What he wants Apple to do will actually undermine his quest to "Make America Great Again."
donald trump, apple, fbi, privacy
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 05:37 AM
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