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Bill Nelson calls on Apple, FBI to cooperate on iPhone encryption issue

The FBI’s director Thursday dismissed concern that forcing Apple to hack an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists could allow access to other owners’ cellphones.

“The code the judge has directed Apple to write works only on this one phone, and so the idea of it getting out in the wild and it working on my phone or your phone … is not a real thing,” FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee. “The second thing is that the code will be at Apple, which I think has done a pretty darn good job of protecting its code.”

Politicians such as Donald Trump and Diane Feinstein have demanded that Apple comply with the FBI. Others have taken a more pro-civil libertarian stance.

And Florida Sen. Bill Nelson? 

The Democrat spoke over nine minutes in the well of the Senate Thursday to basically say the two parties should work together.

“I certainly understand the risk to Americans’ privacy as expressed by Apple and other technology companies, and I don’t want to run the risk of letting the trail go so cold on this terrorist attack and potentially other cases, that the trail could go so cold that we lose it because this is winding itself through months and years in the courts,” Nelson said about halfway through his speech. “… there’s got to be a way that the FBI can get the information it needs from the terrorist’s iPhone in a manner that continues to protect American smartphone users.

“Now, surely, common sense can prevail here. This is why this senator urges Apple and the FBI to work together in order to resolve the stalemate.”

Politicians such as Donald Trump and Diane Feinstein have demanded Apple to comply with the FBI’s request. Others have taken a more pro-civil libertarian stance.

Nelson cited a Pew poll taken this week that showed 51 percent of Americans think Apple should comply with FBI demands to weaken security measures on the iPhone to further the investigation. Only 38 percent of respondents agreed with the company.

However a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday showed 46 percent of respondents agreed with Apple’s position, 35 percent disagreed, and 20 percent didn’t know.

“If the next attack happens and information is on an iPhone, that 51 percent will soar, and it will be very clear that the American people support the protection of our national security,” Nelson warned.

 

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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