Recently, The FBI has been keeping how it managed to break into an IPhone used by Syed Farook; one of the terrorists responsible for the attack in San Bernardino, California. But now the FBI has been telling its secret to some of the members of Congress.
The Feds have started briefing some US Senators about how they accessed the data stored on Farooks IPhone 5C. This phone has been at the center of the clash between Apple and the FBI, and has sparked a bigger, general debate over online privacy and security.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein(D-Calif.) had been briefed by the FBI on how it got into the IPhone, a representative from her office confirmed to CNET, though he declined to give any details about the briefing. Feinstein is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and one of the backers for a bill that will make sure the government can access encrypted data.
“Encryption is the Achilles heel of the Internet,” Feinstein said.
The National Journal, which had originally reported the news of the briefings by the FBI, had also said that Sen. Richard Burr(R-N.C.), another chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-sponsor of the encryption bill, along with Feinstein, was offered a briefing but hasn’t taken it yet. His office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The National Journal reported that both Burr and Feinstein believe Apple shouldn’t be given information on how the FBI managed to hack the phone. “I don’t believe the government has any obligation to Apple,” Feinstein told the National Journal. “No company of individual is above the law, and I’m dismayed that anyone would refuse to help the government in a major terrorism investigation.”
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies usually give classified briefings to federal intelligence committees, but don’t have the same obligation to tell companies how they get around their security controls if sharing the information could hurt any investigations. A day before the hearing was set to see whether Apple had to help the FBI unlock the phone, the FBI said it had found another way into the phone.
A week later, the FBI said it had successfully accessed the data on the Farook’s IPhone 5C, but declined to share how they actually did it with Apple. Apple, who has been fighting a search warrant to help the FBI unlock the phone said they want the information so they can make sure they’re devices are secure.
The fight between Apple and the FBI sparked technology companies and rights groups to argue that strong encryption, which scrambles data so it can be read only by who its meant to be seen by, is need to keep people safe and protect privacy. On the other side of the fight, law enforcement agencies argue that it can’t fight crimes unless it has access to information on mobile devices. The clash between Apple and the FBI brought more attention to the encryption battle, which is sure to keep building.
Reuters reported Wednesday that the White House won’t offer public support for the encryption legislation soon to be proposed by Burr and Feinstein. Barack Obama previously had supported the bill, saying last month that Americans have always made privacy trade-offs with the government when it comes to public safety. – Urban Guerrilla1