Mar 012016
 March 1, 2016  Business, Surveillance, U.S.

Julia Harte and Julia Edwards reports:

FBI Director James Comey told a congressional panel on Tuesday that a final court ruling forcing Apple Inc  to give the FBI data from an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters would be “potentially precedential” in other cases where the agency might request similar cooperation from technology companies.

The remarks were a slight change to Comey’s statement last week that ordering Apple to unlock the phone was “unlikely to be a trailblazer” for setting a precedent for other cases.

Read more on Reuters.

Having watched the entire hearing (5 hours), it was clear that some members of the House Judiciary Committee were having trouble understanding – or accepting – that Apple could not give the FBI what it says it needs without creating new code – and creating that new code would pose a risk to everyone’s security and would be code that Apple strongly objects to creating out of concern for protecting its consumers.

Susan Landau was on the second panel and she was forceful and clear in saying that the solution wasn’t to compel Apple to create a backdoor into its product but to give the FBI the resources and tools it needed so that it could deal with 21st century investigations with up-to-date tools that other agencies such as the NSA may already possess. The NSA had apparently declined to assist FBI with Farook’s iPhone out of fear that their methods might become more public knowledge in the event of a prosecution and a defense demand for methodology.

As a number of legislators pointed out, even if Apple were to make a product that the FBI could access, terrorists and criminals could use other manufacturers’ phones or apps with encryption that the FBI is currently unable to crack.

Some of the most rancorous questioning came when Apple was asked what kind of law it would like to see Congress enact. Apple did not have a proposal, which seemed to irritate at least one member of the committee, Jim Sensenbrenner.

McClatchy has additional coverage of today’s hearing, which you can watch in archived form on C-SPAN.

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