Apple Urges Government to Form Commission on Encryption Issues
Apple Inc., fighting a demand by the U.S. government that it unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, has called for the creation of a government commission or panel of experts to discuss the implications of the demand on issues such as national security and personal freedoms.
"Apple would gladly participate in such an effort," the company wrote in a post on its website entitled "Answers to your questions about Apple and security."
Apple said "the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands" to unlock the phone.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking the company's help to access shooter Syed Rizwan Farook's phone by disabling some of its passcode protections.
Farook and Tashfeen Malik attacked a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., on Dec. 2, killing 14 people and injuring 22. The pair were killed later in a shootout with police.
Apple argues that while it is technically possible to bypass the security features of the iPhone by building a new operating system, such a move would set a dangerous precedent.
The company said it has not unlocked iPhones for law enforcement in the past but has extracted data from an iPhone running older operating systems under a "lawful court order."
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion on Friday seeking to compel Apple to comply with a judge's order to unlock Farook's iPhone.
"We've handed over all the data we have, including a backup of the iPhone in question," Apple said in the blog post. "But now they have asked us for information we simply do not have."
Representative Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, said last week that the complex issues raised by the Apple case "will ultimately need to be resolved by Congress, the administration and industry, rather than the courts alone."
Some victims of the attack will file a legal brief in support of the U.S. government's attempt, a lawyer representing the victims told Reuters on Sunday.
Apple could not be immediately reached for comment.
(Reporting by Abhirup Roy and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr)