Menu
FBI director: Apple encryption ruling could lead to more requests

FBI director: Apple encryption ruling could lead to more requests

A judge's ruling in the smartphone unlocking case will be 'instructive for other courts'

If a U.S. court grants the FBI's request for Apple to help it unlock a terrorism suspect's iPhone, the case will likely open the door to many similar law enforcement requests, the agency's director said Thursday.

A ruling in favor of the FBI by a California judge "will be instructive for other courts," FBI Director James Comey said during a congressional hearing. A decision in the San Bernardino mass shooting case "will guide how other courts handle similar requests," he added.

Lawmakers questioned the broader impact of the FBI's request, and a judge's initial ruling in favor of the agency, during a hearing on worldwide security threats before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

It's important for law enforcement agencies to have access to criminals' communications, but the FBI request doesn't seem to have a "limiting principle," said Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat. "Is there a way through negotiation that we can arrive at cases where it's appropriate to seek this relief and cases where it's not?"

If the FBI wins in this case, it could lead prosecutors to seek tech vendors to help defeat security protections on devices even in misdemeanor cases, Schiff said.

The FBI wants Apple to defeat the iPhone's password security tool that wipes the device after 10 wrong passwords are entered and to kill a short delay limiting how quickly passwords can be input. The agency wants the ability enter an unlimited number of guesses using password cracking software.

Apple has opposed the FBI's request, arguing that law enforcement agencies shouldn't ask tech vendors to help them defeat security controls that protect user data from hackers.

The technology involved in this case, the combination of an older iPhone 5C and its operating system, reportedly iOS 9, may serve as one limit on further law enforcement requests, with tech vendors possibly unable to comply with other smartphones or OSes involved. The case may not be a "trailblazer because of technology being a limiting principle," Comey said.

If the FBI prevails in the case, Apple would be forced to write new software to defeat the password security on the phone, noted Representative Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat.

"Where does this authority end?" Himes said. "Is it the position of the FBI that it has the authority to compel the inclusion of code in a new device?"

Himes asked Comey to "paint a very bright line" for where he believes the FBI's authority ends.

"I don't think I can by virtue of expertise, or should, by virtue of my role," Comey answered. "The San Bernardino case is not about us trying to send a message or establish some precedent. It's about trying to be competent in investigating" a terrorism case.

A debate over encryption and law enforcement access to devices needs to happen in the courts, at the Department of Justice, and in Congress, added Comey, who began raising concerns about law enforcement access to encrypted digital communications in late 2014.

"There's a broader policy question that we all have to grapple with that is far broader than any one case," he said.

Some members of the House panel appeared to side with the FBI.

"I would think it's different if you've got two people who've killed 14 folks in a terrorist attack ... versus some divorce lawyer trying to find out who a philandering husband may have been talking to," Representative Lynn Westmoreland, a Georgia Republican. "There is a total difference there, and I think the American people sense that."

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags applefbi

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2015 and 2016 inductees - Darryl Swann, Dave Rosenberg, Gary Bigwood, Keith Watson, Mike Hill and Scott Green - to the inaugural Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed how the channel can collectively work together to benefit New Zealand, the Kiwi skills shortage and the future of the industry. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch
Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Show Comments