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David Jolly wants federal government to lock out Apple until Apple unlocks phones

U.S. Rep. David Jolly, a U.S. Senate candidate, said Thursday he has introduced a bill that would stop the federal government from buying Apple computers and phones until the company cooperates with federal law enforcement.

Jolly’s “No Taxpayer Support For Apple Act,” House Resolution 4663, would forbid federal agencies from buying Apple products until the company provides law enforcement technical support necessary to access encrypted information sought by a warrant that may be materially relevant to the commission of terrorist acts.

Apple has argued, among other points, that creating a key to allow government access to iPhones could create a window for all sorts of hackers and international governments’ intrusions. Civil libertarians have joined Apple’s cause, citing individual citizens’  rights to privacy.

Jolly, a Republican from St. Petersburg, blasted Apple leadership at a congressional hearing last week for rejecting a court order to unlock the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of two ISIS loyalists who killed 14 Americans in San Bernardino, California, late last year.

“Taxpayers should not be subsidizing a company that refuses to cooperate in a terror investigation that left 14 Americans dead on American soil,” Jolly stated in the news release.

Shutting off government purchases would not be easy. Many government agencies have become reliant on Apple products, which are often preferred over tech companies’ goods for certain kinds of computing and communication.

A tech-news website called MacObserver.com reported in 2009 that at that time the federal government was buying about $200 million a year of Apple computers and services, and that was before the iPhone explosion. That website reported that Apple’s three biggest federal customers are NASA, the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health.

Still, Jolly expressed concerns that Apple’s failure to comply with law enforcement means additional information could be out there that has already contributed or could contribute to other incidents of terrorism.

Jolly is in a big Republican field seeking the nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Other candidates include U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox and Tampa businessman Carlos Beruff.

“This is an order to cooperate in preventing the deletion of evidence on a single phone of a terrorist murderer who pledged allegiance to ISIS – nothing more,” Jolly stated in the news release. “According to the FBI Director, this phone likely contains communications preceding the terrorist attack, including potential calls and messages with fellow terrorists with whom he coordinated. It also would allow law enforcement visibility into the killer’s activity for a period of 18 minutes following the attack that the FBI is currently unable to piece together.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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