From the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal “The Case of Bill Barr vs. Apple” ($) in Wednesday’s paper:
Apple says it responded within hours to the FBI’s first request for data on Dec. 6, the day of the attack. It says it responded to six subsequent requests by providing information stored on its cloud servers, account information and transactional data for multiple accounts. The company says it didn’t learn until Jan. 6 of a second iPhone associated with the probe, and two days after that it received a subpoena.
Apple continues to cooperate, but what it won’t do is create special software to break into an iPhone so the FBI can obtain information stored on the device. Nor will it devise a “backdoor” for law enforcement. Mr. Barr says this refusal means that Apple and other American tech companies are subordinating national security to commercial interests by refusing to assist law enforcement.
Apple is no doubt looking out for its commercial interests, and privacy is one of its selling points. But its encryption and security protections also have significant social and public benefits. Encryption has become more important as individuals store and transmit more personal information on their phones—including bank accounts and health records—amid increasing cyber-espionage…
Mr. Barr’s job includes protecting Americans from terror attacks and criminal networks, and we sympathize with his concern that encryption could slow an investigation when minutes matter. But the answer is for Congress to work with him to forge a compromise that balances private and government interests. That’s what happened in 2018 when Congress created a process for law enforcement to obtain data stored on servers overseas.
In the meantime, Apple doesn’t deserve to be treated like a public enemy.
My take: This is one subject—perhaps the only one—on which I and Journal’s editorial board have always seen eye to eye.