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Congressman Ted Lieu

Representing the 33rd District of California


February 17, 2016
Press Release


Los Angeles- Today, Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) issued the following statement regarding the APPLE court order. Congressman Lieu is one of only four computer science majors in Congress.  Congressman Lieu is also the author of the ENCRYPT ACT of 2016.  

"The terrorist attack in San Bernardino was horrific and the tragic loss of innocent lives demands a strong response.  I have several deep concerns, however, about the unprecedented court order that forces Apple to create software it does not have in order to provide a “back door” way to weaken its smartphone encryption system.

This FBI court order, by compelling a private sector company to write new software, is essentially making that company an arm of law-enforcement.   Private sector companies are not—and should not be—an arm of government or law enforcement.

This court order also begs the question: Where does this kind of coercion stop?  Can the government force Facebook to create software that provides analytic data on who is likely to be a criminal?  Can the government force Google to provide the names of all people who searched for the term ISIL?  Can the government force Amazon to write software that identifies who might be suspicious based on the books they ordered?

Forcing Apple to weaken its encryption system in this one case means the government can force Apple—or any other private sector company—to weaken encryption systems in all future cases.  This precedent-setting action will both weaken the privacy of Americans and hurt American businesses.  And how can the FBI ensure the software that it is forcing Apple to create won’t fall into the wrong hands?  Given the number of cyberbreaches in the federal government—including at the Department of Justice—the FBI cannot guarantee this back door software will not end up in the hands of hackers or other criminals.

The San Bernardino massacre was tragic but weakening our cyber security is not the answer – terrorism succeeds when it gets us to give up our liberties and change our way of life.  We can take common sense security measures without trampling on privacy rights."