Apple FBI Congress

Published: March 2, 2016

Apple FBI Congress, The Justice Department is on a “fool’s errand” trying to force Apple to unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists, lawmakers told FBI director James Comey on Tuesday.

Lawmakers of both parties sharply challenged Comey as the House judiciary committee considered the FBI’s court order to unlock an iPhone owned by Syed Farook, who with his wife killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, in December and was killed by law enforcement.

Legislators repeatedly accused the Justice Department of overreaching its authority and undermining both privacy and cybersecurity. Several endorsed Congress passing a law settling the boundaries – something Apple supports – and accused the FBI of trying to circumvent Congress by launching a lawsuit against Apple.

“Can you appreciate my frustration with what appears to be little more than an end-run around this committee?” asked Democratic congressman John Conyers. Representative Zoe Lofgren called FBI demands to weaken Apple’s security a “fool’s errand” that undermined cybersecurity.

Comey, a well-respected figure in Congress, likened impenetrable digital encryption used to protect customer’s privacy such as that of Apple to a “vicious guard dog”.

“We’re asking Apple to take the vicious guard dog away and let us pick the lock,” Comey said. “It’s not their job to watch out for public safety. That’s our job.”

He said that neither Apple nor any other tech company ought to be permitted to create “warrant-free spaces” through the use of robust encryption, particularly as mobile and software manufacturers increasingly render user keys inaccessible to themselves.

“The logic of encryption will bring us to a place in the not too distant future where all of our conversations and all our papers and effects are entirely private,” Comey said.

Testifying after Comey, Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel, countered the FBI director on multiple points, calling its court order “a way to cut off the debate” rather than engaging in it. “This is a security versus security issue, and we believe that balance should be struck by Congress,” Sewell said.

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