Attorney general defends iPhone hacking on Stephen Colbert’s show

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Loretta Lynch argues her case to Stephen Colbert.
Photo: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

With a growing number of people siding with Apple in its privacy standoff with the U.S. government, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch attempted some damage control last night by appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to defend the FBI’s position.

Check out her appearance below.

Among other topics, Lynch discussed whether or not Apple should help hack the iPhone belonging to one of the suspected terrorists in last year’s San Bernardino mass shooting: something Tim Cook and others have argued will set a dangerous precedent in the erosion of civil liberties.

While Apple has disagreed with the FBI in court, Lynch said that she personally had, “had a number of great conversations with Tim Cook on the issue of privacy.”

When asked by Colbert whether the FBI’s insistence on hacking the iPhone risked establishing a slippery slope, Lynch noted that:

“We’re not asking for a backdoor, and nor are we asking him to turn anything on to [allow us] to spy on anyone. What we’re asking [Apple] to do is to do what their customer wants. The real owner of the phone [in the San Bernardino shooting case] is the county, the employer of one of the terrorist who is now dead.

What we’re asking them to do is to disable the password erase function, that wipes the phone if you guess the password wrong after ten times. We will try and get into the phone, we will extract the evidence under the court order that we have gotten. It’s very narrow, it’s very focused.”

In other words, she’s not answering the question! By now, even FBI director James Comey has admitted that whatever outcome is secured in this case is likely to be used to set a precedent in other cases going forward: many of them not involving terrorism.

Previously, Loretta Lynch has called for a “frank dialogue and fruitful partnership” between Washington and Silicon Valley, with the aim of topping criminals from “going dark” thanks to encryption technologies.