The Latest: Apple lawyer says FBI seeks dangerous precedent

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the debate between Apple and the FBI over iPhone encryption. (all times local):

4 p.m.

Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell says Apple has no sympathy for terrorists and the "utmost respect" for law enforcement and their work.

But he says the FBI, in seeking access to a phone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, is asking a judge to "give them something we don't have" and to create an operating system that does not exist.

He maintained that the government is "asking for a backdoor" that would allow the FBI to break into every iPhone and weaken security for all of them.

Sewell says the U.S. government has spent millions on supporting strong encryption used by activists and journalists, many in countries with fewer free-speech rights.


2 p.m.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California forcefully asked FBI Director James Comey whether his agency had asked Apple Inc. for the underlying software code to the iPhone before forcing the company to create its own digital workaround.

Issa suggested the FBI hasn't exhausted its own efforts before the government went to court over a phone that federal investigators said is linked to the San Bernardino, California, mass shootings.

Comey said the government has tried hard to break into iPhones like the one in California. But he seemed unaware if that method was successful, either by Apple or the government.

Issa has previously criticized the Obama administration on its domestic surveillance practices.


1 p.m.

The high-stakes legal fight between Apple Inc. and the Justice Department over a locked iPhone is moving from the courts to Congress.

Comey and Apple chief lawyer Bruce Sewell are appearing before the House Judiciary Committee for a hearing on encryption Tuesday afternoon.

The hearing comes amid two significant and conflicting court rulings in New York and California on whether Apple can be forced to help the FBI gain access to locked phones.

Comey warns in his prepared testimony that technological advancements have been accompanied by "new dangers." He says those can prevent law enforcement from collecting critical evidence in criminal and terrorism investigations.

But Sewell says the FBI is asking Apple to weaken the security of its products, which he says could create a dangerous precedent.