Apple Inc. (AAPL) to Testify in Congressional Hearing over Encryption

Apple Santa Monica Store

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are among those scheduled to testify during a Congressional hearing today regarding the issue of encryption, security and privacy.

Apple and the FBI are expected to make a strong argument before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives about the court order compelling the tech giant to unlock the iPhone owned by one of the shooters in the terrorist attack that killed 14 people and injured 22 others in San Bernardino, California.

The tech giant rejected the court order citing the reason that the FBI’s demand to create new software or backdoor to the iPhone is dangerous and undermines freedom and liberty.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the San Bernardino case is not just about one phone, but it is also about the future. According to him, the case is “bad for America” because it could set a legal precedent that could put hundreds of millions of customers at risk and “trample” civil liberties.

On Thursday, the tech giant filed a motion to vacate the order and maintained Cook’s position that he would be willing to fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court.  Other technology companies including Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) supports Apple on the issue.

Apple won Brooklyn case over unlocking iPhone

Yesterday, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of the Eastern District of New York ruled that he does not have the authority to force Apple to unlock the iPhone of a drug dealer who already pleaded guilty. Judge Orenstein ruled that the government’s demands on the tech giant were excessive and impractical. Apple doesn’t have to help prosecutors circumvent the security features of the iPhone.  The judge also ruled that the Congress should decide on the matter.

Alex Abdo, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Bloomberg that the court’s decision in the Brooklyn case is a “very good sign for Apple.” He added, “The government should not be able to run to court to get the surveillance power that Congress has deliberately kept from it.”

FBI wants Apple to weaken the security of its products

Bruce Sewell, senior vice president and general counsel of Apple stated in his prepared statement to the House Judiciary Committee that the FBI is asking the company to weaken the security of its products.

According to Sewell, 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.”

“Encryption is a good thing, a necessary thing. We have been using it in our products for over a decade. As attacks on our customers’ data become increasingly sophisticated, the tools we use to defend against them must get stronger too. Weakening encryption will only hurt consumers and other well-meaning users who rely on companies like Apple to protect their personal information,” added Sewell.

FBI is not trying to establish a precedent

Last week, FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that the agency’s litigation against Apple over unlocking the terrorist’s iPhone is “not about trying to send a message or establish some precedent.

Comey also stated that the judge ordered Apple to write code “only on this one phone. So, the idea of it getting out into the wild and working on my phone or your phone, at least, the experts tell me, is not a real thing.”