John Oliver has accomplished something remarkable.
When his show first began, it seemed as though we could expect Daily Show-esque riffs on things in the news, a few minutes of poking fun at whatever ridiculousness was sending Capitol Hill into conniptions. But then it turned out that Oliver's riffs could last the entire show, including just enough jolts of humor to keep the viewer engaged and, since it's on HBO, without the mandated interruptions of commercials. Meaning that, now, in 2016, we can actually have extended analysis of political issues that is still entertaining to watch.
In the most recent episode, which aired on Sunday night, Oliver used his allotted time slot to dive into the ongoing encryption debate that's pitting Apple against the United States government.
This is something we've addressed in the past. The question at hand is whether or not Apple should -- or even can -- create a way to allow the government to view encrypted data on its devices. This seems like a no-brainer: The government should be able to see what criminals are doing. But it's sort of like opening the curtains on a window. Once they're open, other people can look in, too.
That's the "should" question for Apple. Should the company create a way past its own encryption systems that would likely be repeatedly requested by law enforcement -- and which would provide similar access to hackers in the likely event that it was released into the wild? (See our interactive making this point.)
The "can" question is more fundamental. Many applications use end-to-end encryption, meaning that people can communicate with one another without Apple ever seeing any unencrypted data -- so they couldn't help if they wanted to.
How intricate is the rhetoric on the subject? As Oliver points out, even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) modified his strong pro-law-enforcement position on the subject once he understood the technology more fully.
But ours is just a quick summary. For a longer, more nuanced look at the issue ... watch this clip from a comedy show.
What a world.