The Lawfare Podcast

The Lawfare Podcast: Apple v. FBI at the Wilson Center

By Benjamin Wittes
Saturday, March 5, 2016, 1:55 PM

This week on the Lawfare Podcast, the Wilson Center takes on the Apple v. FBI controversy in a panel entitled “Will They or Won’t They? Understanding the Encryption Debate.”

Wilson Center President Jane Harman hosted the event, at which Congressman Ted Lieu of California discusses the encryption challenge with Lawfare’s Susan Hennessey and Kate Martin of the Center for American Progress. Politico’s David Perera moderates the discussion as a tale of thee iPhones. The first is the iPhone at issue in a New York drug prosecution. In that case, Apple voluntarily retains the capacity to assist law enforcement but has declined. A federal magistrate judge has just issued an order siding with Apple in the company's objection that the All Writs Act cannot compel the assistance requested. The second iPhone is the one at the center of the California controversy regarding the provision of assistance to the FBI in unlocking the phone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists. There the government is attempting to compel Apple to create new software to provide assistance. The third iPhone is the iPhone of the future—a theoretical phone with security features that are so robust there is no conceivable way to provide any kind of assistance or law enforcement access whatsoever, rendering many of the current legal questions moot. The panelists discuss how the law should apply to our present reality and the role of Congress in shaping the future relationship between the law and technology.