abstract art of the apple and fbi logos

The fight over unlocking a terrorism suspect’s iPhone is getting even more public.

The battle between Apple and the FBI hits Congress today, in a hearing that will be one of the most public fights over the future of cybersecurity vs. national security to date.

FBI Director James Comey, Apple Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bruce Sewell, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., and Worcester Polytechnic Institute cybersecurity policy professor Susan Landau will all testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

The issue at hand is whether Apple should be required to comply with a court order demanding it create custom software that allows FBI investigators to flood the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook with password guesses. 

Apple has filed a motion to vacate the court order, arguing that writing the software the FBI wants would violate its rights, among other legal objections. The FBI says Apple should have to comply with a valid court order. Both parties agree that Congress should ultimately clarify the issue through legislation.

The House Judiciary Committee hearing will not decide who’s right. Instead, the hearing is simply an opportunity for members of Congress (and the American people) to gain insight into what’s at stake.

The hearing takes place at 1pm ET. You can watch it right here, or check it out on C-SPAN3 and the House Judiciary Committee’s website.

The witnesses have each submitted their own written testimony, which will be presented at the opening of the hearing: 

Following the opening testimonies, members of the Judiciary Committee (which is made up of 23 Republicans and 16 Democrats) will ask each witness questions reflecting their expertise—and that’s where things could get interesting.

Illustration via Max Fleishman 

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.

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