VIDEO: Sen. Bill Nelson Calls On Apple To Unlock Terrorist’s iPhone

By  //  February 25, 2016

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ABOVE VIDEO: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees the nation’s telecom industry, today called on Apple to unlock the iPhone connected to the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees the nation’s telecom industry, today called on Apple to unlock the iPhone connected to the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

“We need to know what was behind this attack,” Nelson said on the Senate floor today.

Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson

“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.

“We’ve got a dead terrorist that he and his wife have killed 14 Americans. We have that dead terrorist’s iPhone. We have a federal judge’s order that says we have the right to get that information in order to protect the nation and its people.

“We’ve always found a way to balance our cherished right to privacy and to our cherished right of securing ourselves and our national security, and that’s what’s needed in this case. The safety and security of our fellow Americans depends on it.”

Here’s the transcript:

Sen. Nelson: Mr. President, last December the second, 14 innocent souls in San Bernardino were gunned down in a violent act of terrorism.

Mr. President, there’s one of these involved. This has become ubiquitous; a lot of us carry them around in our pocket. And yet, here almost three months later, law enforcement has not been able to fully access the iPhone, the one used by the terrorists in gunning down these 14 people.

Information obviously on the iPhone could shed some light on how he planned the attack with his wife. It could obviously indicate others that were involved in the attack. And it could indicate other contacts with other terrorists in the United States or abroad who helped him in that attack.

And yet, three months after these murders, the FBI cannot even access the contents of the iPhone because of a security feature in the iPhone potentially erases its contacts after ten incorrect passwords are put in. And the maker of the iPhone, Apple, says it would need to develop new software, software it claims that does not exist today, in order to disable that feature in the iPhone.

Well, if this security feature were to be disabled by Apple, then the FBI could use what it calls “brute force” attack, which is a running through in milliseconds, combinations of numbers to try to assess what is the password combinations in order to gain access to the iPhone.

But they don’t have access, even though the court is involved. In federal court, a federal magistrate judge last week ordered Apple to provide a reasonable technical assistance to the FBI in order to provide access to the perpetrators’ iPhone.

Apple opposes the order, given the concerns that technology developed to intentionally weaken the security features of the iPhone could be abused if it’s in the wrong hands. In other words, there would not be the privacy concern they claim putting smartphone users’ data and privacy at risk.

It is a legitimate argument, and it also views the federal magistrate judge’s order as an example of government overreach. Well, the response of the Department of Justice filed a motion in the district court to compel Apple to comply with the magistrate judge’s order.

And because of the complicated nature of the issues of national security, individual privacy – which we value, and First Amendment questions involved, there’s no doubt going to be prolonged litigation that may ultimately have to have the thing decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Well, 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.

In other words, we need to know what was behind this attack, a terrorist attack that everybody recognizes was terrorist. We need to know in order to get to the bottom of it and root it out and see if there is other terrorists inside the country that are planning to do the same thing, to protect our people and our national security.

So 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.

Now, let me go back over this again. We’ve got a dead terrorist that he and his wife have killed 14 Americans. We have that dead terrorist’s iPhone. We have a federal judge’s order that says we have the right to get that information in order to protect the nation and its people.

It’s just like if we had this terrorist, dead or alive, and we needed to get an order to invade that person’s privacy to get into their home to get evidence to protect the nation from other terrorist attacks. Certainly there would be no objection to that. The judge’s order would be the protector of that privacy.

It’s a similar situation, except it’s an iPhone that’s in the possession of the FBI but they can’t get the information in it.

Well, what if this terrorist were not an American citizen and this terrorist were illegally in the US? Would the same standard apply? I think Apple would say “yes.”

I mean, you can draw up these different scenarios. The bottom line is, we’re going to have to protect our people, and so that’s why this senator urges Apple and the FBI to work together in order to resolve the stalemate, giving the consideration that must be given to the rights of privacy and the protection of privacy in people’s iPhones.

We’ve always found a way to balance our cherished right to privacy and to our cherished right of securing ourselves and our national security, and that’s what’s needed in this case. The safety and security of our fellow Americans depends on it.

Otherwise when the next terrorist strikes, the 51% of Americans that are surveyed today that say they feel like that the government needs access to this information to protect against future attacks — if the next attack happens and information is on an iPhone, that 51% will soar, and it will be very clear that the American people support the protection of our national security.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

BILL NELSON-CAPITAL-SOUP-580


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