Obama administration overruled import ban on older iPhone and iPad models, which was issued by the International Trade Commission (ITC) earlier this year at the request of Samsung. This ban allows Apple to continue imports of AT&T models of the iPhone4, iPad 3G, and iPad 2 3g. This became an important issue because of the patents held by Samsung for the cellular data chips used in those devices. Samsung complains Apple infringed upon the patent, and Apple argues that patents are standards-essential patents (SEP) and that Samsung licensed its patent at fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, which is similar to open sourcing. Vetoing the decision of the ITC raises concerns that SEP owners who initially agreed to FRAND terms may exercise their “rights” to the patent, also. However, all of this seems like a pawn to hide bigger issues, say some Americans. It is a rare occasion when government administration steps in to veto an action by the ITC. This has not happened since the first time it was done in 1987. The public finds it weird that this happens right around the time speculation of unwarranted call monitoring has come into question. As the stakes between the companies due to the import band ruling, America’s suspicion of the Obama administration heightens. Because of this ban, legal battles about the situation between the companies must now take place in front of the court instead of the ITC, even though the ban cannot be overturned. Obama administration says their intent behind the ban was to keep a close eye on commission involving SEPs and if matters involving them are in best interest of the public. Some feel the real intent is to keep an eye on the companies involved as suspicions run rampant that all dealings involving telephone communication and the government is linked to call monitoring, as Apple and Samsung emerge as cellular industry leaders.
Obama administration further explains that injunction and exclusion orders are “inconsistent with innovation and the broader public interest.” What Americans wants to know is why there is so much government interest. Would the ban make it harder/easier to monitor telecommunication or is the sole interest about bettering the government’s pocket. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman remarks that the ban against Apple devices would give the patent holders “undue leverage,” which is counterproductive to consumers and competitive issues currently existing within the economy. Apple spokeswoman commented, “We applaud the Administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case,” and “Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way.” No way could the government let one company monopolize an industry when it needs it share of the profits and information. What better ways to monitor citizens than to have top companies create more innovative ways to keep up with “we the people?” As Apple shares concerns of monopolization, it discloses that it has concerns that competitors would copy the iPad and iPhone, which led to the bitter breakup between Apple and Samsung when Apple released the iPhone in 2007, and shortly after Samsung released products with similar features. This caused Apple to launch a series of patent suits that Samsung reciprocated. Partner at the law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, Susan Kohn Ross, admits her astonishment that the government would intercede on a matter that is usually handled outside of the courts and why the issue even warranted government policy statements. This, too, raises the level of suspicions by America of the relationship between the unlikely pair—Apple and the Obama administration—if in fact there is one. Because Samsung cannot appeal the veto, maybe it will heed warning and ease off suits against Apple. With 56% of Americans feeling like “federal courts fail to provide adequate limits on the telephone and internet data the government is collecting as part of its anti-terrorism efforts,” as stated according to research done by Pew Research, it does not ease the fear exhibited by Americans, nor does it help the government’s case as another cell phone dispute emerges, especially one that seems unwarranted. This goes to show that the government may step in—or out—wherever it chooses; even however it chooses, as an even larger percent, 70% of Americans feel like the information being taken and stored is for more reasons than to protect against terrorism. A whapping 63% believes that the content of communication is the actual reason behind the monitoring. The new ban veto proves that data warrants protection at all lengths as government, business, and consumers slowly begin to mix in what may very well not be the hodgepodge it was once considered, triggering fear and confusion in Americans as the reality that 55% of democrats and 45% republicans believe there should be a ban on the National Security Agency (NSA) bulk phone record collection—a number that sits too close for comfort. The scenario is all too familiar as GOP representative, Jim Ses, prime author of the Patriot Act in 2001 commented on the dealings of giants Microsoft and Google and their dealings in court. When did the government begin to take such a broad stance on technology? Or had they always? This is the heightened fear and suspicions that the Obama Administration has invoked in America’s heart as call monitoring and the import ban ruling, too sit too close for comfort.
As the showdown between technologies play out from call monitoring to the lift of the import of the ban by government officials, if Americans were not already paranoid, they are receiving more and more reason to be as the reports of the government’s ability to have access to Skype calls were revealed. Americans feel like stating they now have an inability to trust the NSA and government officials as ahold, communication companies, and even social media is an understatement. While the government has secrets, such as the nature of the 50 spoiled terrorist plots due to massive surveillance, how can one honestly believe sites like Microsoft and Facebook does not share private information or give “direct access” to their servers? Bruce Schneier, Special to NBC, basically tell Americans that there is no one size fits all answer about whom to trust in his article “NSA secrets kill our trust.” This is saddening coming from a media specialist who admits that he should have a viable answer. With news reports breaking news within hours of each other involving big name companies, such as Apple, who reportedly keep billions offshore, and government officials, such as Obama, who called for a corporate tax makeover to remove incentives for companies to keep profits overseas, only to see other news stories, like the ban veto involving Apple and Obama administration, one can only begin to perceive that sneaky business may be going on. Heighten alarm that all calls are being monitored and privacy issues violated brings on America’s suspicion that the government is a Big Brother system, and the import ban being lifted by the Obama administration is a suspicious act that solidifies who is actually ruling. Former president, Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust but verify.” Government demands the trust of America’s people, but when information can no longer be accurately verified and deciphered, trust becomes just another catchphrase.