With the court date for the iPhone unlocking case between Apple and the FBI just over a week away, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch decided to speak on the issue during an episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert last night (via TechCrunch). After Colbert asked about her likely stance on the topic, Lynch said that she has "had a number of great conversations with Tim Cook on issues of privacy," and remarked on the sensitivity of the issue.
"Well, you know, we've disagreed publicly in court and I've had a number of great conversations with Tim Cook on issues of privacy. What I'll say about this, though, is I understand why this is important to everybody, because privacy is an important issue for everyone. It's important to me, as the Attorney General, it's important to me as a citizen."
As it has been heavily reported since mid-February, the case revolves around the FBI's request for Apple to unlock the iPhone 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken a stance against the court order, which Colbert brought up to Lynch in last night's interview. The host noted Cook's belief that creating such a backdoor into the iPhone could lead to a "slippery slope" into privacy concerns for all Apple device users.
Lynch's defense lies in Cook's alleged misrepresentation of what the FBI wants the company to do in regards to Farook's iPhone. In the interview, she claims that they are "not asking for a backdoor," and that the court order filed requesting Apple's compliance is "very narrow," suggesting Cook's fear of an anti-privacy precedent is unwarranted.
"Well you know, first of all, we're not asking for a backdoor, and nor are we asking for him to turn anything on to spy on anyone. We're asking them to do what their customer wants. The real owner of the phone is the county, the employer of one of the terrorists who's now dead. What we're asking them to do is to help us disable the password erase function that basically wipes the phone if you guess the password wrong after ten times. We will try to get into the phone, we will extract the evidence under the court order that we have gotten that's very narrow, it's very focused."
Lynch's comments support a recent document released by the prosecutors representing the United States government in the case against Apple, in which they refer to the original filing for Apple's participation a "modest" request that would never lead to a "master key" that could unlock all iPhones against the will of their owners. Nevertheless, Apple will appear in court to fight the order on March 22, following the recently confirmed March 21 date of its "Let Us Loop You In" media event.
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