Apple's General Counsel Will Try to Convince Congress in Encryption Debate

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on February 29, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Encryption-Opera continues as Apple's General Counsel announces plans to take the encryption debate to Capitol Hill by testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. Apple's General Counsel, Bruce Sewell, plans to reiterate the arguments that Tim Cook has already made to the American public and its customers: We object.

We've taken a look at the text of the opening remarks that Sewell will delivery to the HJC tomorrow. It's mostly stuff that you've already seen. But the implications for this situation can't be overstated, not only for individuals' phones, but potentially for company networks, too.

Some Key Points Sewell's Remarks

  • "Something We Don't Have": By now, almost everyone is aware that the FBI director Jim Comey has secured a federal court order for Apple to create a backdoor skeleton key that would -- in name -- break open encryption measures against attack to Syed Farook's phone. Sewell has said that Apple has refused to create the software because doing so would be too dangerous.
  • "This is not about just one iPhone":The FBI has consistently said that doing so would only affect Farook's phone and would not set the tone for further iPhone break ins. Apple balks at these claims and points out DA Vance's plans to use the technology on 175 other phones. "We can all agree this is not about access to just one iPhone.
  • "Encryption is good and necessary": Sewell contends that encryption has been used by Apple in its products for over a decade. Attacks have become increasingly complicated and sophisticated, so tools used to protect against these attacks must get stronger, too.
  • Re All Writs Act: Sewell addressed The All Writs Act -- though not by name -- which has been the basis of the government's thrust for opening Farook's phone. Apple contends that access to iPhones -- should not be based on a warrant under the All Writs Act and should be decided by the American People and people sitting on the HJC.

"At Apple, we are ready to have this conversation," Sewell will say. We shall see how open the government will be to discussing what many believe is already a settled issue.

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