Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Apple iPhone fight moves to Congress

The high-stakes legal fight between Apple and the US Justice Department over a locked iPhone is moving from the courts to Congress.

FBI Director James Comey and Apple chief lawyer Bruce Sewell are appearing before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington for a hearing on encryption on Tuesday.

The hearing comes amid two significant and conflicting court rulings in New York and California on whether Apple can be forced to help the FBI gain access to locked phones.

Mr Comey warns in his prepared testimony that technological advancements have been accompanied by "new dangers".

He says those can prevent law enforcement from collecting critical evidence in criminal and terrorism investigations.

But Mr Sewell says the FBI is asking Apple to weaken the security of its products, which he says could create a dangerous precedent.

Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California Mr Comey whether his agency had asked Apple for the underlying software code to the iPhone before forcing the company to create its own digital workaround.

Mr Issa suggested the FBI hasn't exhausted its own efforts before the government went to court over a phone that federal investigators said is linked to the San Bernardino, California, mass shootings.

Mr Comey said the government has tried hard to break into iPhones like the one in California. But he seemed unaware if that method was successful, either by Apple or the government.

Mr Sewell insisted Apple has no sympathy for terrorists and the "utmost respect" for law enforcement and their work.

But he says the FBI, in seeking access to a phone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, is asking a judge to "give them something we don't have" and to create an operating system that does not exist.

He maintained that the government is "asking for a back door" that would allow the FBI to break into every iPhone and weaken security for all of them.

Mr Sewell says the US government has spent millions on supporting strong encryption used by activists and journalists, many in countries with fewer free-speech rights.


From Belfast Telegraph