Attorney General Loretta Lynch is insisting the government doesn't want a "back door" to break or weaken Apple's encryption.
“We do not want a back door into Apple or anyone else’s technology. What we are asking for is for Apple to comply with a valid court order,” Lynch told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning.
“We are not asking them to break encryption. We are not asking them to weaken encryption,” she continued.
In a separate case in New York, the Justice Department is appealing a recent decision by a Brooklyn magistrate preventing it from forcing Apple to provide access to an older model iPhone.
Apple argues that the access demanded by the government in San Bernardino would set a dangerous precedent that could endanger citizens’ privacy. Further, it argues that the government is demanding it build a “back door” that would create vulnerabilities in its encryption, which criminals could exploit on any of its devices.
Lynch pushed back on those arguments Wednesday, echoing previous claims by FBI Director James Comey that any workaround to encryption it is seeking from Apple will be unique and confined to the individual phone in question.
“Every platform is different and presents different issues, and the response to the government should be as narrowly tailored as possible,” Lynch said Wednesday.
Earlier this month, technologists widely panned Comey when he made the same arguments during a House Intelligence Committee hearing.
“Experts have told me the combination of a 5c [iPhone], and this particular operating system is sufficiently unusual that it’s unlikely to be a trailblazer because of technology being the limiting principle,” Comey said.
He argued that the code needed to unlock the device — which Apple says does not exist — “works only on this one phone.”
Cryptologists largely insist that Comey’s claims are technologically impossible.
Comey has also argued that any software the government is asking Apple to create would be property of the company and would be protected from malicious hackers.
The company, he said, has been “pretty darn good” at protecting its code in the past.
Lynch echoed those arguments Wednesday, insisting that the software the government is asking Apple to create would be proprietary to Apple.
“We do not want to retain or possess anything that they may create to help us in that. It would remain with Apple,” she said.