Apple wants Congress to make the call on FBI encryption case

Apple wants Congress to make the call on FBI encryption case

Apple will file legal papers this week requesting that the California judge who ruled the company must help the FBI by creating software to unlock an iPhone instead lets the case be decided by Congress.

In a briefing with the Associated Press, lead attorney for Apple Theodore J. Boutrous Jr, who’s been called the “best of the best” by another corporate client, Wal-Mart, explained the company’s strategy.

The government is really seeking to push the courts to do what they haven’t been able to persuade Congress to do. That’s to give it more broad, sweeping authority to help the Department of Justice hack into devices, to have a backdoor into devices, and the law simply does not provide that authority.

Boutrous Jr also said that Apple objects to what it sees as the court’s improper use of the 1789 All Writs Act to force the company to create something that it says does not already exist.

Where Judge Sheri Pym simply ordered Apple to comply, without it getting the appropriate time to respond, the company clearly feels it has more friends in Congress.

Apple spent record sums last year lobbying US policymakers, some $4.5 million, as well as giving more than $100,000 towards individual campaigns.

Some 51 members of Congress actually have shares in Apple and 31 out of Apple’s 38 lobbyists previously held government jobs.

But given that Congress members are elected on behalf of US citizens, this could mean that the public’s view is represented in the ultimate decision that gets made.

Today, however, the majority of the public is in favor of Apple complying with the FBI’s request.

Going via this route will no doubt slow down the process, which is potentially no bad thing if Apple intends to get more of the public on side.

➤ Apple: Congress, Not Courts Must Decide [Associated Press]

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