The FBI recently pressured Apple into creating a special iPhone security override for them — and Apple very politely told them to screw off.

The TL;DR version is that the FBI is having trouble breaking into the iPhone formerly belonging to Syed Farook, one of the shooters involved in the tragic massacre in San Bernardino, California. Apple agreed to help ... but the FBI took this a step further and obtained a court order for Apple to provide a way to bypass several security features on the phone without erasing its data. Apple claims this would involve creating a new version of iOS (which some have dubbed "FBiOS") with a back door that has serious privacy and security implications.

It's not that Apple can't do what the FBI is asking of them; it's that they shouldn't. The company did cooperate by providing the data that was already in their possession. But they were less comfortable with the potential slippery slope of the FBI's override request and the precedent that kind of government overreach would establish for the future.


Apple CEO Tim Cook told the feds as much.

"You want master access to every Apple device? Nah-uh. Not on my watch, pal." Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Stringer/Getty Images.

Regardless of how you feel about the FBI's request, you have to wonder: Why is this only coming up now?

Actually, it's not.

While the iPhone itself has been around since 2007, this specific issue has to do with the new encryption policies Apple introduced with iOS 8 in 2014. "Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access [your personal] data," the company said at the time. "So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."

It's almost like they saw this coming.

And the FBI wasn't happy about it back then, either. As FBI Director James Comey said after Apple's encryption started catching on, "This disconnect has created a significant public safety problem. ... Uploading to the cloud doesn't include all of the stored data on a bad guy's phone, which has the potential to create a black hole for law enforcement."

It's almost like they saw this coming, too. And they've been asking for access ever since.

Photo by Carrrrrlos/Flickr.

Since then, the FBI has tried repeatedly to inch Apple toward their big ask.

This all came to a head in fall of 2015, when the Justice Department asked for Apple's help to crack the iPhone (running iOS 7) of a drug dealer named Jun Feng.

"Apple has repeatedly assisted law enforcement officers in federal criminal cases by extracting data from passcode-locked iPhones pursuant to court orders," the government argued. "Apple has acknowledged that it has the technical capability to do so again in this case."

It's a classic method of manipulation. "Just one more tiny favor, that's all! Just this once!"

This time, it was a drug dealer; but next time, it could just be a kid who illegally downloaded the new Kanye record.

So Apple drew a line in the sand.

Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

Then the San Bernardino shooting happened.

On one hand, it was the highest death toll since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre three years prior, and an absolute tragedy.

But mass shootings aren't hard to come by in this country, even if there is some debate about what exactly qualifies as a "mass shooting."

There was Dylann Roof, for example, the radical white supremacist who killed nine people at a historic black church in South Carolina. There was Robert Lewis Dear, an anti-abortion radical who killed three people, including a university police officer, and injured nine more at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado.

Elliot Rodger was spurred on by radical misogyny and killed six people and wounded seven others in Isla Vista, California.

And who can forget Wade Michael Page, another radical white supremacist who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin? Or Jared Loughner, whose radical right-wing anti-government ideology led him to kill six people and injure 11 more, including a Congresswoman, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona?

The difference between these and the San Bernardino shootings? Syed Farook represents a unique opportunity for the FBI that the other shooters didn't.

Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

In case you didn't notice the pattern: the majority of mass shooters in the United States are white extremists.

And the people who were allegedly responsible for the San Bernardino massacre? They were Muslims.

So why did the FBI decide that it was finally the right time to ask for that super-special secret master key that they've been after for years?

Because they could.

Because Islamophobia is on the rise, which makes it easier for them to get the unrestricted access they've been after so they can use it in the future whenever they want, regardless of the "who" or the "why."

Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Stringer/Getty Images.

So while Apple should be applauded for standing up to the FBI and defending our right to privacy, there's another deeply concerning issue lurking in the foreground.

As the face of the anti-surveillance movement said himself:

We know the U.S. government already spends a lot of time and resources spying on Muslims, even without an Apple master key. They do the same to "black extremists" and other left-wing "radical" movements such as Occupy as well.

And for the $500 million spent for every victim of terrorism, 90% of those caught up in this snooping are normal people like you and me.

The government's desire to compromise the privacy of its people under the auspices of "safety" is incredibly dangerous.

Let's refuse to perpetuate the racial fears that make this kind of subtle attack on our privacy possible.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

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