Apple And FBI To Face Off In Congress Next Week Over Ongoing Encryption Issue

Just when you thought the ongoing encryption battle between Apple and the FBI was coming to an end, it has been revealed that representatives of both Apple and the FBI will be returning to court next week to give testimonies to lawmakers looking to gain a more in-depth understanding of the circumstances and disagreements that led to the feud between FBI and Apple resulting in a legal battle over iOS encryption. Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell and FBI Executive Assistant Director for Science and Technology Amy Hess will both be part of the hearing.

Many outsiders looking in on the encryption case will have assumed that it had all come to an end when the FBI officially declared that it would no longer pursue Apple for access to an iPhone 5c. This move was taken after the governmental law enforcement agency allegedly enlisted the help of a number of freelance hackers with knowledge of a vulnerability within iOS in order to gain access to the data contained within. This may have appeared on the surface to put the case to bed, but it seems that both Apple and the FBI will be required to testify on separate panels before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday, April 19th.


The hearing has been given the title “Deciphering the Debate over Encryption: Industry and Law Enforcement Perspectives”, with Apple’s Bruce Sewell stepping forward to lead the second panel. The FBI’s Amy Ness will bring the agency’s case and viewpoints forward before the subcommittee by taking the lead role in the first panel, and will also be supported by Thomas Galati, Chief of NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau.

Of course, Sewell will be there from a legal perspective, but is expected to be joined by a number of experts that can speak authoritatively on the encryption case. Expected to join him is cryptology expert Matt Blaze, RSA Security expert Amit Yoran, and Daniel Weitzner, who is a researcher from MIT. All of those experts will help Apple and Sewell put forward the case for the need for encrypted systems.


It’s currently unknown if Amy Hess of the FBI will be backed up by any experts from the world of encryption, but it’s highly likely that her role in this panel will be to argue that companies like Apple should be forced to comply with court orders when a law enforcement agency needs assistance in matters such as these on account of protecting citizens. It’s recently been reported that access to the iPhone 5c in question has yet to yield any information of importance to the case, but nevertheless, it looks as though the whole debacle is far from over, especially with the understanding that FBI’s iPhone access method only works on non-Touch ID devices.

(Source: Reuters)

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