Is the FBI asking Apple to violate federal law?


Has the Federal DA or FBI working with Apple read the “Communication Assistance for Law Enforcement Act” (CALEA Law)?

Section 103: Assistance Capability Requirements

(b) LIMITATIONS

(1) DESIGN OF FEATURES AND SYSTEMS CONFIGURATIONS.—This title does not authorize any law enforcement agency or officer—

(A) to require any specific design of equipment, facilities, services, features, or system configurations to be adopted by any provider of a wire or electronic communication service, any manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, or any provider of telecommunications support services; or

(B) to prohibit the adoption of any equipment, facility, service, or feature by any provider of a wire or electronic communication service, any manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, or any provider of telecommunications support services.

(2) INFORMATION SERVICES; PRIVATE NETWORKS AND INTER-CONNECTION SERVICES AND FACILITIES.—The requirements of subsection (a) do not apply to—

(A) information services; or

(B) equipment, facilities, or services that support the transport or switching of communications for private networks or for the sole purpose of interconnecting telecommunications carriers.

(3) ENCRYPTION.—A telecommunications carrier shall not be responsible for decrypting, or ensuring the government’s ability to decrypt, any communication encrypted by a subscriber or customer, unless the encryption was provided by the carrier and the carrier possesses the information necessary to decrypt the communication.


Apple appears to have multiple legal defenses

Per 103(b)(1)(A) the government doesn’t have the authority to require any specific designs or system configurations. However, the FBI is demanding Apple design and create new software that theoretically could modify every device.

Per 103(b)(3) that the device is encrypted by the customer when they setup their device pin code the first time. Apple is specifically not responsible for “decrypting, or ensuring the government’s ability to decrypt, any communication encrypted by a subscriber or customer.”

Per 103(b)(3) Apple has stated they do not have the keys required to decrypt the device. Apple did not provided the encryption standard or method used, the US Government funded the development of AES encryption.

Congress explicitly denied FBI the authority

CALEA law appears clear and congress has refused to re-legislate the issue despite repeated hearings with the FBI.

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