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USA Today Columnist Hacked Mid-Air While Writing Apple-FBI Story

Apple logoSteven Petrow
USA Today

“I don’t really need to worry about online privacy,” I used to think. “I’ve got nothing to hide. And who would want to know what I’m up to, anyway?”

Sure, I’m a journalist, but I’m not an investigative reporter, not a political radical, not of much interest to anyone, really.

That was last week, when the standoff between the FBI and Apple seemed much more about principle than practice to me. That’s when I thought I’d write a column on whether this legal fight matters to regular folk — people like my mother, a retired social worker; my best friend, who works in retail; or even my 20-year-old niece in college. That was before I found out — in a chillingly personal way — just why it does matter. To all of us.

Just before midnight last Friday, my plane touched down in Raleigh after a three-hour flight from Dallas. As usual, I’d spent much of the flight working, using American Airlines Gogo in-flight Internet connection to send and answer emails. As I was putting on my jacket, a fellow in the row behind me, someone I hadn’t even noticed before, said: “I need to talk to you.” A bit taken aback, I replied, “It’s late … need to get home.”

“You’re a reporter, right?”

“Um, yes.”

“Wait for me at the gate.”

[I didn’t answer, but I did wait.]

“How did you know I was a reporter?” I asked while we started walking.

“Are you interested in the Apple/FBI story?” he responded, ignoring my question.

“Kind of. Why are you asking me that?” I thought he was some kind of creepy mind reader.

Then he dropped the bombshell.

“I hacked your email on the plane and read everything you sent and received. I did it to most people on the flight.” He had verbatim detail of a long email that he repeated back to me essentially word for word.

To read more click here.


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