House committee invites Apple CEO Tim Cook, FBI Director James Comey to discuss encryption

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2016
Amid a firestorm of debate sparked by Apple's decision to fight an FBI data request, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Friday invited Apple CEO Tim Cook and FBI Director James Comey to offer testimony on the nuanced issues surrounding encryption.




In inviting Cook and Comey to testify, the committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations wants to hear both sides of the "ongoing debate related to encryption technologies." Cook has fiercely defended consumers' rights to data privacy, while Comey has for years fought for priority backdoors, saying encryption hinders law enforcement operations.

The invitation points to rapidly evolving security technologies both created and adopted by commercial tech firms. Due to its market position and work on advanced, easy-to-use encryption, Apple and its iOS devices are well known for providing high levels of consumer protection. This also puts the company in the crosshairs of law enforcement agencies whose criminal investigations are sometimes stymied by digital security systems.

"This debate has now come to a critical juncture with the recent order by a federal magistrate to your company to assist the FBI in 'unlocking' a security feature of a phone allegedly used by one of the perpetrators of terrorist acts in San Bernardino, California in December 2015," the letter reads. "According to news reports, there are a number of other law enforcement officials around the country considering use of authorities to compel similar assistance by technology manufacturers."

Apple was ordered by a federal judge to comply with FBI requests to assist in bypassing the passcode lock on an iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook. To aid in the operation Apple is asked to provide a software tool capable of disabling iOS 9's passcode attempt counter, thereby allowing the FBI to facilitate a brute force attack on the locked phone.

Following this week's court order, Cook penned a strongly worded letter opposing the creation of software designed to weaken existing encryption technologies. Not only does the FBI's motion to compel -- the DOJ filed a similar follow-up motion on Friday -- set a dangerous precedent, but it undermines iOS by providing a proof of concept workaround, Cook said.

The FBI, DOJ, White House and other government agencies contend the bypass method will only be used in this specific case, arguing that the creation of a backdoor does not implicate other iPhones beyond Farook's. These claims are vehemently disputed by cryptologists, privacy advocates and Apple itself.

A date has not been set, nor has Cook or Comey responded, but the committee anticipates a hearing at its earliest opportunity.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 100
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,547member
    Sure, govt, one specific case. I fully believe you. It all starts with one item. A snowflake is harmless until it causes an avalanche. 

    Laws change, our rights don't. 
    anantksundaramcaliquadra 610irelandcornchiprobroy72brian greenmejsricliquidmarktallest skil
  • Reply 2 of 100
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    I would politely decline if I were Cook.
    quadra 610cornchipradster360jdgazargonautSpamSandwich
  • Reply 3 of 100
    I'd love to see someone hack Comey's phone.  Maybe he'd think twice about back doors.
    calicornchipbrian greenjbdragonjustbobf
  • Reply 4 of 100
    irelandireland Posts: 17,294member
    Politicians are increasingly at odd with the people.
    cornchipbrian greenlatifbpjbdragonargonautSpamSandwich
  • Reply 5 of 100
    irelandireland Posts: 17,294member
    I'd love to see someone hack Comey's phone.  Maybe he'd think twice about back doors.
    Rest assured his team would spin anything including that.
    cornchip
  • Reply 6 of 100
    I have everything I could find on this subject this week in trying to decide how I feel about it. It is a very difficult issue for me. I can clearly see both sides. We all want to know where domestic terrorists might strike next, and we all want to insure that our phones and associated cloud storage are secure from would-be hackers. At least for now, I side with Apple. I don't want to slide down that slippery slope, at least in this instance. I think it highly unlikely that they will find anything useful on this guy's work phone, after having destroyed their personal phones and removed/destroyed the hard drive in their computer. Maybe in a different situation, but let's not go there quite yet.
    jfc1138cornchipfallenjtargonaut
  • Reply 7 of 100
    metrixmetrix Posts: 214member
    Does anyone think that Cook looks better than the Presidential candidates that we are considering?
    calicornchipbrian greenjax44teejay2012latifbpnetroxradster360brakkenRayz2016
  • Reply 8 of 100
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    metrix said:
    Does anyone think that Cook looks better than the Presidential candidates that we are considering?
    This is the perfect time for him to announce he's running for president. Too bad he has the largest company in the world to run.

    G. Ned C. said:
    I have everything I could find on this subject this week in trying to decide how I feel about it. It is a very difficult issue for me. I can clearly see both sides. We all want to know where domestic terrorists might strike next, and we all want to insure that our phones and associated cloud storage are secure from would-be hackers. At least for now, I side with Apple. I don't want to slide down that slippery slope, at least in this instance. I think it highly unlikely that they will find anything useful on this guy's work phone, after having destroyed their personal phones and removed/destroyed the hard drive in their computer. Maybe in a different situation, but let's not go there quite yet.
    The terrorists destroyed their personal phones. There's a reason why they DIDN'T destroy this one. There's nothing in it.
    cornchipbrian greenanantksundaramjohn.blatifbppscooter63postmanjbdragonpalomineargonaut
  • Reply 9 of 100
    bugsnwbugsnw Posts: 706member
    I think if this was another company, people would think it prudent to help unlock phones on a court-ordered by court-ordered basis. The odds of this technology getting out are quite low. Both sides make a great case. I just lean slightly towards national security on this one. Even with an encryption key safeguarded by the govt./FBI, I would feel like my data was safe from prying eyes. We don't have all that much privacy out in the wild as it is. It's part of the give and take of rights vs. safety.
  • Reply 10 of 100
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,068member
    Getting my popcorn ready.
  • Reply 11 of 100
    The biggest part of this problem is when you get people yapping their mouths who do not know what they are talking about.  Most people have no real clue how the technological processes are setup for these systems to work and for proper security to be in place.  "Oh just have Apple make a program to get into the device" -- shows how little these government lawyers at the Justice Department and politicians (Trump, Obama & most in DC) know how this stuff works.  

    In turn you have other incompetent staff at San Bernardino County that have no clue on how to properly manage iOS devices in an enterprise environment.  

    And to think -- some people want more government in our lives and "caring" for us!
    cornchipbrian greenanantksundarambaconstanglatifbpberndogjbdragonhlee1169argonaut
  • Reply 12 of 100
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    "In the government’s Friday filing,  the Justice Department acknowledged that the password was re-set in the hours after the attack by authorities with San Bernardino County. The county owned the phone and provided it to Farook for work."

    USA. Today
    edited February 2016 brian greenhydrogen
  • Reply 13 of 100
    I really think this is Tim's moment to shine.  He's stepping up to the plate for all the people who feel that privacy ought to be more important than government snooping.  I also hope this upsets a lot of people inside Apple and moves them toward a stronger privacy focus with OS X and iOS 10.  Luckily, Apple has the resources to fight this with confidence.  The DoJ and FBI are flat out wrong for trying to force this.  If their investigation hinges solely on a work phone that they didn't bother to destroy, it shows us just how little they have to go on through traditional investigative techniques.  They also haven't bothered to bring the NSA into this fight, and demand that the NSA provide all the data they have on file for those various accounts.  I look forward to seeing Apple's moves on this.  
    anantksundarambaconstangbrakkenjbdragonpalomineargonaut
  • Reply 14 of 100
    dougddougd Posts: 181member
    How could they possibly install software on a locked phone ?
  • Reply 15 of 100
    dougd said:
    How could they possibly install software on a locked phone ?
    This is an interesting question. I've been wondering the same. 
    jbdragon
  • Reply 16 of 100
    ac1234ac1234 Posts: 138member
    jungmark said:
    Sure, govt, one specific case. I fully believe you. It all starts with one item. A snowflake is harmless until it causes an avalanche. 

    Laws change, our rights don't. 
    Snowflakes - avalanches ???  You may be singing a different tune if a Sarin shell is headed your way.

    I think SAFETY is a higher priority than "privacy".  What the hell are all these people tal;king about that has them so hyper about this or other programs?

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-apple-fbi-motion-to-compel-20160219-story.html ;
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 17 of 100
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,714member
    bugsnw said:
    I think if this was another company, people would think it prudent to help unlock phones on a court-ordered by court-ordered basis. The odds of this technology getting out are quite low. Both sides make a great case. I just lean slightly towards national security on this one. Even with an encryption key safeguarded by the govt./FBI, I would feel like my data was safe from prying eyes. We don't have all that much privacy out in the wild as it is. It's part of the give and take of rights vs. safety.
    Did you not read any of the leaked NSA slide decks?

    edited February 2016
  • Reply 18 of 100
    bugsnw said:
    ...Even with an encryption key safeguarded by the govt./FBI, I would feel like my data was safe from prying eyes....
    The US govt doesn't exactly have a great track record of keeping sensitive information out of the wrong hands (e.g. http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/06/why-the-biggest-government-hack-ever-got-past-opm-dhs-and-nsa/).
    edited February 2016 horvaticai46jbdragonicoco3argonaut
  • Reply 19 of 100
    Any back door is an open door that will lead to millions of identity thefts and more. This cannot happen if everyone's privacy is to be protected. The government cannot protect this if they force Apple to make that door.
    EnglishMansireofsethjbdragonhlee1169argonaut
  • Reply 20 of 100
    Another option would be to make it harder for these people to get their hands on automatic weapons. Increase checks or even ban auto's from anywhere but the locked facilities of the firing range. As for the debate at hand, it starts with access to one phone, then 2, then every police dept, gov dept, etc using this case as a test bed for access to all the phones they wish in the future. 
    brakkenai46palomineargonaut
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