Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

SecurityWeekSecurityWeek

Tracking & Law Enforcement

Apple Case Not About Setting Precedent: FBI Chief

FBI Director James Comey on Thursday defended his agency’s efforts to force Apple to help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, as he warned of risks of unbreakable encryption.

“The San Bernardino litigation is not about us trying to send a message or establish some kind of precedent,” Comey told lawmakers at the House Intelligence Committee.

FBI Director James Comey on Thursday defended his agency’s efforts to force Apple to help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, as he warned of risks of unbreakable encryption.

“The San Bernardino litigation is not about us trying to send a message or establish some kind of precedent,” Comey told lawmakers at the House Intelligence Committee.

“It’s about trying to be competent in investigating something that is an active investigation.”

Apple is at the heart of a closely watched legal battle after a US judge ordered the tech giant to provide assistance to the FBI to unlock the encrypted iPhone in question, which belonged to Syed Farook, a US citizen.

Along with his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik, Farook gunned down 14 people in the Californian city of San Bernardino in December. Investigators want help unlocking the device but, Apple chief Tim Cook says unlocking the iPhone in the name of fighting terrorism would be “bad for America.”

“It is a precedent that should not be done in this country, or in any country,” he told ABC News on Wednesday.

Apple has equated the request to “hacking” its own devices and building a back door which could be used by others.

Comey said the question of whether tech firms should be able to create tamper-proof encryption was the “hardest question” he had ever seen in government.

“It’s going to require negotiations and conversation,” he said. Comey noted that while encryption is attractive in principle, law enforcement must have some sort of continued access to information to keep the public safe.

“Law enforcement really saves people lives,” he said. “We do that a whole lot through court orders that are search warrants.”

Comey told lawmakers the public should understand “the costs associated with moving to a world of universal strong encryption.”

He commented that with the growth of this kind of encryption, “the world will not end but it will be a different world from where we are today.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he is “sympathetic” with Apple’s quandary and other tech firms have offered guarded support.

CIA Director John Brennan said in an interview broadcast Wednesday that the FBI “clearly has a legitimate basis” to demand the unlocking of the phone in question.

Written By

AFP 2023

Click to comment

Expert Insights

Related Content

Cybercrime

The FBI dismantled the network of the prolific Hive ransomware gang and seized infrastructure in Los Angeles that was used for the operation.

Ransomware

US government reminds the public that a reward of up to $10 million is offered for information on cybercriminals, including members of the Hive...

Ransomware

The Hive ransomware website has been seized as part of an operation that involved law enforcement in 10 countries.

Cybercrime

The owner of China-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato was arrested in Miami along with five associates in Europe

Cybercrime

No one combatting cybercrime knows everything, but everyone in the battle has some intelligence to contribute to the larger knowledge base.

Cyberwarfare

Google Project Zero has disclosed the details of three Samsung phone vulnerabilities that have been exploited by a spyware vendor since when they still...

Cybercrime

Russian Vladislav Klyushin made tens of millions of dollars by hacking into U.S. computer networks to steal insider information.

Cybercrime

A hacker who reportedly posed as the CEO of a financial institution claims to have obtained access to the more than 80,000-member database of...