Apple-FBI Wrangle Over Unlocking iPhone Strays Into Political Polemic
NEWS ANALYSIS: Apple moves past its legal battle to engage the FBI on a political front, while the government seems to belie its own claims that its demands are limited.If you ever wondered whether Apple was waging a political battle while the government was waging a legal battle in its effort to gain access to a terrorist’s cell phone, the events of this week make it clear. The reasons, of course, are also clear. Apple believes it has a better chance of prevailing in its battle with the Federal Bureau of Investigation if it does an end run around the courts. While Apple’s strategy might have a better chance of success than fighting a purely legal battle, it’s still risky for the computer maker. On the other hand, the fight that’s now taking place is also risky for the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. Before this is over, they could all be losers. While Apple CEO Tim Cook is betting that he can convince enough members of Congress to create a study commission and delay any further action, Apple doesn’t have enough members of Congress in its pocket to ensure that its view will come out on top.
Worse, the simple mention of terrorism is enough to convince many in Congress to vote for whatever the government wants. This means that Apple’s hoped-for commission might well end up deciding to recommend an end to encrypted phones or it might recommend legislation that mandates cooperation with law enforcement.