One of the biggest tech debates in Washington is whether the government should have a “back door” or special key to unlock password-protected smartphones.
Leading the opposition is Apple, which opposed a court order by the FBI to hack into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters earlier this year.
Now, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has weighed in on the so-called “encryption debate” as part of her technology platform, which was revealed on Tuesday.
What’s remarkable is how closely Clinton’s position mirror’s Apple’s own public statements. Clinton’s position starts:
“Hillary rejects the false choice between privacy interests and keeping Americans safe.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview on ABC earlier this year:
“I know people like to frame this argument is privacy vs national security. That is overly simplistic and it is not true this is also about public safety.”
“Our job is to protect our customers … It’s not just about privacy but it’s also about public safety.”
Clinton’s platform continues:
“She was a proponent of the USA Freedom Act, and she supports Senator Mark Warner and Representative Mike McCaul’s idea for a national commission on digital security and encryption.”
Her call and support for Warner and McCaul’s commission lines up exactly with Apple’s position that the “encryption debate” should be decided in Congress. In a FAQ about the FBI case posted earlier this year, Apple wrote:
“We feel the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act and, as some in Congress have proposed, form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology, and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy, and personal freedoms. Apple would gladly participate in such an effort.”
And in an open letter posted on Apple’s website, Cook writes that one of his issues with the FBI case is that it was fighting for help through the courts “rather than asking for legislative action through Congress.”
Clinton’s actual policy positions may be different if she is elected president. But Apple executives have to be heartened that Clinton appears to be mirroring the company’s points on the issue — especially the call for Congress to consult tech industry experts.
Clinton sure appears to be more favourable towards Apple’s position than her Republican opponent Donald Trump, who has called for a boycott of Apple over the issue.
Apple has at least one strong historical connection with the Democratic party: Al Gore, who was Bill Clinton’s vice president, sits on Apple’s board of directors. But Cook is also fundraising for the Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
Apple declined to comment on Clinton’s platform.