Apple Inc. (AAPL) Urges Creation of Commission to Discuss Encryption

Apple Santa Monica Store

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) encouraged the U.S. government to form a commission or a panel of experts on intelligence, technology, and civil liberties to help resolve on the standoff in encryption and its implications to national security, privacy, and personal freedoms.

The tech giant rejected a court order requiring it to provide reasonable assistance to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in its investigation of the San Bernardino case. The agency is demanding Apple to create a unique version of the iOS to circumvent the security feature on the iPhone 5C owned by one of the shooters in the terrorist attack that killed 14 people and injured 21 others in San Bernardino.

Apple said creating such version of the iOS is similar to a master key that could unlock thousands or millions of iPhones, which the company believes to be dangerous and undermines the very freedom and liberty the government is meant to protect.

In a post on Monday, Apple said the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act and to form a Commission to discuss the issue. The company emphasized that “our country has always been strongest when we come together.”

Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican Congressman Michael McCaul, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee proposed the creation of a digital security commission to break the impasse between Apple and the government on the issue of encryption.

The lawmakers are expected to release the details of a bill that would create a panel during an event at Washington on Wednesday. Apple said it would gladly participate in such effort.

A dangerous precedent that threatens civil liberties

In a letter to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that the company’s strong conviction against the court order is not just about the iPhone 5C involved in the FBI’s investigation in the San Bernardino case, but it addresses broader issues.

“This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation, so when we received the government’s order we knew we had to speak out.  At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties.”

Apple admitted that it is possible to create a new operating system to undermine the security features of its device as the government wants. However, the company strongly believes that such demand of is too dangerous, and the only way to guarantee that such powerful tool is not abused and does not fall into the wrong hands is to never create it.

FBI’s argument

On the other hand, FBI Director James Comey said the case was about the “victims and justice” and not about setting a new legal precedent. He published his argument on the case on Lawfare, a national security legal blog.

According to the FBI Director, “Fourteen people were slaughtered and many more had their lives and bodies ruined. We owe them a thorough and professional investigation under law. That’s what this is.”

On Friday, the Department of Justice filed a motion seeking to force Apple to follow the court order to unlock the iPhone 5C owned by Syed Rizwan Farook. The agency admitted that its action was “not legally necessary” because hasn’t submitted its response to the initial court order.

It was recently reported that Apple will likely use its rights to free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution as a primary legal argument to block the court order.

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Marivic Cabural Summers
Marie holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication. She has an extensive experience in Journalism. Marie started in the industry in high school and her forte is news and editorial writing. She previously worked as a news writer and radio program producer at Nation Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in the Philippines. She has also experience in advertising, events management, and marketing. She was a former Young Ambassador of Goodwill to the 26th Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP). She also writes for ICANNWiki, ValueWalk, and the The Motley Fool Blog Network. You can contact Marie [email protected]