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Apple vs FBI: Apple and Others to Argue on the Hill

Tomorrow afternoon at 1pm EST Apple will be giving testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. The session that Apple and others will be taking part in is aptly named, The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans’ Security and Privacy

In common with other hearings the various witnesses called to speak have already submitted their written testimony, so we can already look at it and analyse it. We obviously have no idea what kind of questions Mr. Sewell will be asked.

So what is Apple saying?

They’re sticking to their line, but it’s also clear that they’re very conscious that the world is watching. Here are a couple of extracts from their testimony (emphasis added):

The FBI has asked a Court to order us to give them something we don’t have. To create an operating system that does not exist—because it would be too dangerous. They are asking for a backdoor into the iPhone—specifically to build a software tool that can break the encryption system which protects personal information on every iPhone.

It’s not simply a matter of Apple getting the data off a phone, they’re being asked to write a special version of their operating system—a more insecure version—to facilitate this.

The FBI is asking Apple to weaken the security of our products. Hackers and cyber criminals could use this to wreak havoc on our privacy and personal safety. It would set a dangerous precedent for government intrusion on the privacy and safety of its citizens.

One of my favourite lines, however, is this one:

... there’s probably more information stored on that iPhone than a thief could steal by breaking into your house.

The importance of encryption, privacy and security are all topics that Apple touches on in their testimony.

Apple wants Congress to be the one to decide if the laws need to be changed, not a court somewhere making use of a 200 year old bit of legislation.

Here’s the full text of Apple’s testimony.

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions

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