Apple and FBI will duke it out at congressional hearing March 1

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The war on encryption ensues next week.
Photo: orangesparrow/Flickr CC

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee announced both FBI director James Comey and Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell are testifying at a congressional hearing on encryption March 1. The saga is far from over, since both will state their cases on the matter of whether the government should have access to users’ iPhone data.

The congressional hearing ultimately revolves around a single question: how can the FBI efficiently do what’s necessary to combat threats without invading users’ privacy and potentially making iOS a more vulnerable operating system? Right now there are two polar opposite positions.

Tim Cook very publicly made his argument on Apple’s website last week that the government should not be able to access users’ sensitive information. Apple was apparently feeling pressure from the FBI to create a version of iOS with a backdoor that the government could get through as needed. Cook believes this is a significant security threat and stated yesterday in an ABC interview that it would be “the software equivalent of cancer.

The FBI’s point of view, on the other hand, is that it’s necessary for them to access certain iPhone data (like usage by criminal suspects) so they can efficiently do their job.

Apple is far from backing down on its position. In fact, the company just hired the developer of Signal, the most secure messaging app in the world, so it can build technology into future versions of iOS that would prevent even Apple from being able to hack into conversations.

Hopefully next week’s hearing will see progress toward reaching a happy medium between Apple and the FBI.

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