As Apple and federal officials continue their legal battles over unlocking an iPhone that belonged to a terrorist, the head of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee worries about the impact it could have on the future of encryption policies.
Speaking at this month’s Lincoln Day event in Sheboygan Falls, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said that the issues over unlocking iPhones or other devices is something that should be handled by federal lawmakers, and warned that breaking those codes could lead to financial troubles for many businesses and other groups. “Encryption on these devices has allowed our economy to flourish,” he said. “It protects our personal information, it allows all these financial transactions to go through.”
Johnson said laws that could open encryption need to be very carefully considered. “I would certainly recommend to anybody thinking about changing law on this thing is First, Do No Harm. And be very careful in terms of what we may or may not do in terms of laws around encryption.”
Despite his concerns, Johnson did call on Apple to follow any court orders issued in the case. “The companies involved have got to comply with lawful court orders.”
Still, he said the ultimate decision on issues like this ought to lie with the legislature, and not the judiciary. “Forcing companies to offer backdoor keys to encrypted devices? That’s definitely something for the Legislature. That’s something that’s going to require an awful lot of thought, and my personal opinion is that technology has probably to really do anything about it lightly.”
The FBI has sued Apple over its refusal to create code that would allow the agency to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. Federal officials have argued it would be a one-time request, but Apple contends writing the code would undermine the security of millions of its customers.
Contributed by WHBL