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Unlocking iPhone would leave millions exposed, Apple to tell Congress

NEW YORK: Unlocking an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters would leave hundreds of millions of Apple Inc device owners vulnerable to cybercriminals and other hackers, the company’s top lawyer is expected to tell U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday.

In written testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee released on Monday, Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell reiterated the tech giant’s stance that the FBI’s request to help access the phone “would set a dangerous precedent for government intrusion on the privacy and safety of its citizens.”

Meanwhile,  in a statement prepared for the Tuesday hearing, Sewell said the public should understand that “encryption is a good thing, a necessary thing” even if it makes the work of law enforcement more difficult.

Apple and FBI are locked in battle over a warrant seeking to force the technology company to help unlock the iPhone used by one of the shooters in December’s San Bernardino attacks.

Apple‘s refusal has set off an intense political debate about encrypted devices that provide “keys” only to users.

In his remarks, Sewell said Apple has been stepping up its encryption over the past few years.

“As attacks on our customers’ data become increasingly sophisticated, the tools we use to defend against them must get stronger too,” he said.

“Weakening encryption will only hurt consumers and other well-meaning users who rely on companies likeApple to protect their personal information.”

Encryption helps preserve privacy around the world, he added, “and it keeps people safe.”

Lawmakers and the public should decide the question of access to the locked iPhone, Sewell said, renewing Apple‘s criticism of the government’s use of the broad 1789 All Writs Act, which offers broad authority to law enforcers. — Agencies

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