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This article was published on February 19, 2016

US Senate panel decides against criminal charges should Apple fail to comply with court order

US Senate panel decides against criminal charges should Apple fail to comply with court order
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr today ruled against a proposal that would introduce criminal penalties for companies refusing to comply with encryption-related court orders.

The ruling today comes as a bit of a surprise as Burr himself penned a strongly-worded op-ed in USA Today just yesterday criticizing Apple for seeking protection from the legal system while at the same time refusing to comply with it when it could impact its bottom line.

Apple’s position in the San Bernardino case affirms that it has wrongly chosen to prioritize its business model above compliance with a lawfully issued court order. While the company may have routinely complied with such court orders in the past, it now claims that it cannot comply as a result of security features it has built into its newest products. Apple exists as a corporate entity with the protections provided by U.S. laws, but it cannot be allowed to pick and choose when to abide by those laws as it sees fit. We are a country of laws, and this charade has gone on long enough. Apple needs to comply with the court’s order.

This highly divisive issue is proving to be a quite the quagmire with the general populace decidedly split in terms of support.

Sentiment in the tech world seems mostly in Apple’s favor, with many influential leaders expressing support for Apple and the continued fight to protect personal liberties.

Outside of tech communities — where citizens may not have as firm a grasp on the technologies at play, or encryption in general — sentiment seems to be a bit more split and lean in favor of Apple complying with the court order.

One thing is for certain, this battle will greatly impact the future of data security and we’ll all be present as it unfolds.

Update: The DOJ filed a motion to compel Apple to comply with the original court order.

Senate Panel Chief Decides Against Plan to Criminalize Firms That Don’t Decipher Encrypted Messages [Wall Street Journal]

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