Apple and the FBI met before the United States Congress yesterday in the hopes of finding a solution to the ongoing case of Apple refusal to obey a court order to unlock an iPhone 5C.

The iPhone – which belonged to one of the two shooters responsible for the San Bernadino massacre in December 2015 – has become the centre of a debate about privacy.

The major concern Apple and numerous other organisations including Facebook and Twitter have, is that giving the FBI a back door into its phones could put iPhone users at large at risk of being monitored without their knowledge.

With that said, Apple isn’t entirely against the FBI being able to access data stored on its products in certain situations – and this includes the iPhone under the spotlight – but as the general council for Apple Bruce Sewell said before congress yesterday, “This is a security versus security issue, and we believe that balance should be struck by Congress.”

Congress representative Zoe Lofgren said that the FBI is demanding Apple weaken its security undermined cybersecurity as a whole  calling the demands a “fool’s errand”.

Apple security is a vicious guard dog

When FBI Director, James Comey went before Congress he explained that all the FBI wanted was for Apple to let them into the iPhone 5C in question, likening the security measures Apple employs to a vicious guard dog.

“We’re asking Apple to take the vicious guard dog away,” Comey said, “and let us pick the lock. It’s not their [Apple’s] job to watch out for public safety. That’s our job.”

Comey went on to argue that no technology company should be allowed to create encryption that no legal body can bypass.

“The logic of encryption will bring us to a place in the not too distant future where all of our conversations and all our papers and effects are entirely private,” Comey added.

The FBI has maintained that this request would only be used to unlock this particular iPhone, but after Comey was questioned by member of the House of Representatives, Robert Goodlatte, that seems to no longer be the case.

“It won’t be a one-time request. It’ll set precedent for other requests from the FBI and any other law enforcement”, Goodlatte explained, to which Comey replied, “Sure, potentially.”

No conclusion, yet

Many lawmakers gathered in Congress yesterday seemed to agree that Congress and not the judicial system, decide whether technology firms such as Apple should have to comply with security agencies and create backdoors in software.

The debate around privacy and creating backdoors has started but as Democratic congressmen John Conyers explained the debate must continue, “even if the dialogue does not yield the results desired by some in the law enforcement community.”

So which side do you stand on, are you okay with intelligence agencies having the potential to spy on you in the pursuit of the war on terrorism or should they leave privacy alone? Let us know in the comments.

[Via – The Guardian] [Image – CC BY/2.0 Pasu Au Yeung]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.