Obama administration departments remain split over Apple encryption issue
Mar 08, 2016 10:24 PM EST
Apple fueled a national debate over digital privacy rights and national security when it said that the company no longer wants to serve as the middleman between its customer's phone and the government. Even the Obama administration and the Department of Justice remains split in the issue.
The Guardian reported that the government has persuaded a federal judge that Apple should be ordered to author software which makes it more convenient for the government to unlock newer and more secure mobile devices. The Department of Justice and FBI Director James Comey, who are fighting to have an access to an iPhone tied to the San Bernardino shooting, have tried and failed to convince other departments to join the broader argument against unbreakable encryption.
Federal judges argue that strong encryption makes it difficult for the government to track criminals. However, officials in other departments such as Commerce, State and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, countered that the encryption is essential in guarding US secrets and the technology industry.
According to Reuters, some government officials are worried that confronting the tech industry on the matter could heighten distrust of American products abroad and drive terrorists and most wanted criminals to seek foreign-made encryption.
Meanwhile, presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton was reported to have finally weighed in on Apple's legal dispute with the FBI, as reported by Gizmodo. "There has got to be some way to avoid breaking date encryption. But there has to be some way to follow up on criminal activity and prevent crimes and terrorism," says Clinton in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Some prominent officials in the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security opposed the fight with Apple based on encryption. Deputy assistant attorney general Luke Dembosky for national security called the disagreements over encryptions "very healthy." Director of NSA Michael Rogers also said that encryption is important but 'compromise is desirable.'
Apple is fighting the order proposed by the DOJ to write software to unlock the phone of shooter Rizwan Farook. The tech giant called the case ad overreach by prosecutors that imperil the security of all iPhones. Hearing on the issue is scheduled later this month.