Lynch: We’re Not Asking Apple for a Backdoor; We Still Have to Hack Phone

‘What we’re asking Apple to do is to essentially effectuate the system that would remove the password blocker’

[excerpt]

GRAHAM: “If China went to Apple in China and said we want a backdoor key to all iPhones in China, what would your response be?”
LYNCH: “Well certainly I think the company would have a strong response there.”
GRAHAM: “Would you support Apple’s request to say no to China?”
LYNCH: “We are not asking for a backdoor here, so I certainly do not see us supporting a backdoors elsewhere.”
GRAHAM: “That’s what I’m confused about. It seems to be that the judicial decision basically is requiring Apple to create technological devices or to create a system that would be able to get into the phones, their own phones, that’s not true?”
LYNCH: “Well, what we are asking Apple to do is to essentially effectuate the system that would remove the password blocker. The password blocker destroys information —”
GRAHAM: “That’s not the key to unlock the phone?”
LYNCH: “No, we would have to find our own way into the phone. Essentially the password blocker destroys the information on the device if you guess the password incorrectly ten times. We would like the opportunity —“
GRAHAM: “Would you support the Chinese —“ [crosstalk]
LYNCH: “— for us to try and do that.”
GRAHAM: “Would you support the Chinese government’s request to do the same thing?”
LYNCH: “I do not think that — that I’d be opining on the Chinese government’s request of anything.”
GRAHAM: “The point I am making is if we ask our own — if we ask companies here we are setting precedents for Russia, China and other countries.”
LYNCH: “Senator, I think that one of the issues raised by that question, and I thank you for raising it, is — is that it creates really a false equivalency without legal systems with other countries, with our moral systems, with the way in which we do business with other countries.”
GRAHAM: “Well, we are the good guys and they’re the bad guys.”
LYNCH: “But we have a system of laws that have worked for a number of years —”
GRAHAM: “No, I agree we’re the good guys and they’re bad guys.” (Laughter)
LYNCH: “— within — with corporate America to allow them to provide information to us from a variety of ways, systems and devices, and protect privacy at the same time, that have not led to the parade of horribles as often described whenever those — those particular changes are made.”
GRAHAM: “One of the arguments Apple makes is if other — there are other companies that create encryption. So from a terrorist point of view, you are not limited to Apple iPhones to communicate, are you?”
LYNCH: “I think the terrorist use any device they can to communicate.”
GRAHAM: “So, this encryption issue, if you required Apple to unlock that phone, that doesn’t deny terrorists the ability to communicate privately, does it? There are other ways they can do this?”
LYNCH: “We have certainly seen terrorist using a variety of encrypted platform for communication.”
GRAHAM: “The point to the committee is fixing — you know getting the information that this particular phone doesn’t protect terrorist from using encrypted devices [goes] to exist beyond Apple. In terms of Apple’s point of view, do you think their argument that if you require us to do this that it will hurt their market share? That would put them at a disadvantage to other companies that produce products outside the United States.”
LYNCH: “You know I haven’t seen Apple’s marketing analysis for that, so I am not sure — I’m not even quantify that.”
GRAHAM: “Does it make — I mean some company in Switzerland said, ‘Hey you can buy iPhone, we’re not going to ever — you don’t have to worry about the American government or any other government being able to break the encryption.”
LYNCH: “Again, I think it would depend upon how people view that and how they rated as an important feature and how would compared to Apple’s devices.”
GRAHAM: “So we are balancing the information were trying to get on this individual case against a precedent we may be setting that other countries could follow, and we are also have to balance the idea that the terrorist can use encryption outside of Apple, and we also have to balance the idea that we may be hurting American companies for a competing globally. Are those sort of the four things that we’re looking at?”
LYNCH: “Senator, I am not going to cabin the issues at this time, because I think that for us the issue is about a criminal investigation into a terrorist act and the need to obtain evidence.”
GRAHAM: “And — but it just not so simple and I will end with this, I thought it was that simple, I was all with you until I actually started getting briefed by people in the Intel community and I’ll say, I’m a person who has been moved by the arguments of the precedent we sat and the damage we may be doing to our own national security. So I have definitely moved to any member of the committee who feels very passionate about this, introduced some legislation requiring the Apple — the technology companies to do what you want the judges to do. I would like to look at it. And it just not enough to complain. If you think these companies should be required to do this, let’s sit down and see if we need to introduce legislation. I doubt that many people will do that. Thank you for your fine work on behalf of our country.”
LYNCH: “Thank you sir.”

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