Summoned to Capitol Hill, Apple Comes Armed With Questions for Congress

One of the questions: "Should the FBI be allowed to stop Apple, or any company, from offering the American people the safest and most secure product it can make?”

Apple, summoned to Capitol Hill to explain why it is refusing to help the government access a terrorist’s phone by developing malware to hack in, says Congress should be the one answering questions.

Bruce Sewell, Apple’s top lawyer and senior vice president, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. In the prepared text of his opening statement, Sewell calls for public debate around three questions in particular.

“The American people deserve an honest conversation around the important questions stemming from the FBI’s current demand,” Sewell wrote.

“Do we want to put a limit on the technology that protects our data, and therefore our privacy and our safety, in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks?”

“Should the FBI be allowed to stop Apple, or any company, from offering the American people the safest and most secure product it can make?”

And: “Should the FBI have the right to compel a company to produce a product it doesn’t already make, to the FBI’s exact specifications and for the FBI’s use?”

On February 16, a California federal magistrate judge ordered Apple to help the government break into an iPhone used by San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook — but Apple says that demand is onerous and oppressive, like asking it to breed “cancer” to infect its own product, and opposite its mission to protect users’ cybersecurity.

Apple thinks the answer shouldn’t come from the courts. “The decisions should be made by you and your colleagues as representatives of the people, rather than through a warrant request based on a 220-year-old statute,” Sewell wrote.

Read the rest of Sewell’s opening remarks below as a preview to Tuesday’s hearing:

Top photo: Apple Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bruce Sewell at the Chinese and Foreign Entrepreneurs Summit during the First World Internet Conference in 2014.

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