One of the biggest conversations over the last couple of years has been security, and, by extension, encryption, and Apple has found itself embroiled within those conversations on more than one occasion due to its iOS software, which offers encryption for its users that oftentimes means Apple can’t access data that’s on the device at all.
One such device is an iPhone 5c that was used by one of the shooters of the San Bernardino event in 2015. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has made it a point to force Apple to assist the agency in accessing the data on that device, going as far as to have a judge order the company to comply. Apple made it clear that it planned on fighting against that court order, and officially motioned to vacate the order not too long ago.
Now, Apple’s general counsel, Bruce Sewell, and the Director of the FBI, will sit down in front of a congressional hearing and make the case for, and, at least in part, against, encryption and how it needs to be implemented to both protect citizens and still be functional enough to assist law enforcement in situation where information can be obtained from devices. Yesterday, Sewell released his opening statement, saying that this case will set a precedent that could negatively impact citizens in a large way.
“We have the utmost respect for law enforcement and share their goal of creating a safer world. We have a team of dedicated professionals that are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to assist law enforcement. When the FBI came to us in the immediate aftermath of the San Bernardino attacks, we gave all the information we had related to their investigation. And we went beyond that by making Apple engineers available to advise them on a number of additional investigative options.”
The hearing is called “The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans’ Security and Privacy,” and it’s available to livestream for those who want to watch it as it happens. It begins at 9:30 AM PT/12:30 PM ET, with the hearing beginning with FBI Director James Comey, and eventually moving to Apple’s Bruce Sewell.
The House Judiciary Committee released a statement regarding the hearing, saying that the widespread use of encryption has widespread implications, both for citizens’ privacy and security:
“The widespread use of strong encryption has implications both for Americans’ privacy and security. As technology companies have made great strides to enhance the security of Americans’ personal and private information, law enforcement agencies face new challenges when attempting to access encrypted information. Americans have a right to strong privacy protections and Congress should fully examine the issue to be sure those are in place while finding ways to help law enforcement fight crime and keep us safe.”
In a separate, but parallel, case, a New York Judge ruled that the U.S. government cannot enact the 18th Century All Writs Act to enforce Apple to assist in unlocking an iPhone. While that ruling will not directly impact the decision made in this particular case, it should at least play a part in underlying opinions moving forward.
You can watch the livestream in the video embedded below.
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