FBI vs Apple sparks local interest/debate

FBI vs Apple sparks local interest/debate

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The FBI may have d ropped its legal action against Apple, but local experts say the security questions raised are far from resolved.

The FBI recently got help to hack into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers. That was after the agency started a court battle to try to force Apple to open the phone.

In this day and age, our cell phones now contain our lives. They allow us to do everything we need on the go from pictures, video, banking, purchases and social media. But is it all really secure?

The great Apple-FBI debate caught the attention of local companies, like technology firm CapTech Ventures in Henrico.

"If somebody could steal your device and within five minutes open it up and get access to your mobile banking and start transferring money out of your account, is that something you really want to have available?" said Jack Cox, Managing Director for CapTech.

Cox worries about the unintended consequences of the government forcing a company to find a backdoor way through its encrypted phones.

"The whole idea of security isn't to completely lock up information. There are no absolutely secure systems. The idea of encryption and other security is to increase the cost of getting access to that information."

But law firms like Richmond-based Williams Mullen are also tracking this same issue in the courts.

"I think it's clear that the facts are on the side of the government in this particular case, because you have to wonder why you wouldn't disclose this information, given the heinous nature of the crime and the concerns about terrorism around the world and here in the United States," said Kevin Pomfret.

He's a partner and a former CIA analyst. He says this is all a debate about access and at what point law enforcement needs to convince a judge that certain information is valuable.

"Technology is moving so quickly, and lawmakers, policy makers, regulators and judges and lawyers are really struggling to keep up."

Both side agree this debate is healthy and needed, because we're talking about not only how government works, but also our constitutional rights and this country's future.

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