The day Apple has been waiting for has arrived: Apple SVP and general counsel Bruce Sewell presented the company’s views on encryption in front of the targeted forum, the Congress.
Apple’s general counsel appeared to answer questions about the company’s case against the FBI but didn’t offer a solution – when asked – to what Apple sees as a proper balance between customer privacy and security, and national security (via Re/code).
However, when he was asked about a hypothetical scenario involving an iPhone holding encrypted information about a nuclear bomb, he did emphasize that Apple has a variety of tools at its disposal and, as an example, mentioned how promptly Apple had assisted investigators in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 plane (via TechInsider).
“When the Malaysia Airline[s] plane went down, within one hour of that plane being declared missing, we had Apple operators cooperating with telephone providers all over the world, with the airlines and with the FBI to try to find a ping, to try to find some way we could locate where that plane was,” Sewell said.
During the five-hour Judiciary Committee hearing on encryption, FBI Director James Comey admitted that the bureau screwed up when it changed the Apple ID password on the iPhone 5c used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attacks.
Comey also defended the All Writs Act, saying that “the Constitution is as old or older than the All Writs Act and is still a pretty good document.” He also called out Apple’s privacy efforts adding that “They sell phones, they don’t sell civil liberties. That’s our business to worry about.”
Sewell, on the other hand, presented Apple’s Constitutional arguments, highlighting that the Supreme Court recognizes computer code as a form of speech and arguing that the court order (forcing Apple to develop that software) violates Fifth Amendment protection against coercion.