Apple’s denial of assistance to the FBI to hack into the phone of one of the terrorists involved in the December attack in San Bernardino, Calif., has attracted massive resentment. Now Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is working to introduce legislation soon that will criminalize Apple’s refusal to aid decryption efforts as part of a governmental investigation. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report this news on Thursday.
Apple not asked to provide backdoor
Criticizing Apple’s decision, Burr said in an op-ed in USA Today, “Apple has wrongly chosen to prioritize its business model above compliance with a lawfully issued court order.”
Burr stated that the iPhone firm received an order from the U.S. District Court to provide assistance to law enforcement agents in unlocking the phone.
“There are no decryption demands in this case, and Apple is in no way required to provide a so-called backdoor,” the senator added.
The FBI intends to piece together information about the terrorists and the people they contacted, for which access to the phone is necessary, Burr said.
On Tuesday, the court ordered Apple to provide support to the FBI, to which CEO Tim Cook refused to comply with, citing privacy and security issues. Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife carried out the terrorist act in which both were killed in police fire. The FBI believes that with help from Apple, agents can get hold of some valuable information from the device.
Ongoing debate over Apple’s stance
On the other hand, Apple’s stance not to comply has gained the support of many legal experts, privacy advocates, and fellow tech companies such as Google, WhatsApp, etc. The iPhone firm has three more days to respond to the federal court order.
Some analysts are contemplating if the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act could be modified to impose encryption rules. Under this law, telecommunications companies are compelled to construct their systems so that court orders can be complied with.
Several companies and developers have designed encryption tools that are easy to use and virtually impossible to decipher with correct usage. End-to-end is a popular form of encryption that allows only the sender and receiver of a message to see it, and once sent, the messages are irretrievable.