To: The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate

Congress: Debate & Vote Before FBI Forces Apple to Break iPhone

Congress should debate and vote before the FBI forces Apple to create technology to break into people's iPhones. Until Congress debates and votes, Congress should push the FBI to step back from its attempt to set a precedent in court with its attack on Apple.

Why is this important?

Acting at the behest of the FBI, a federal court has ordered Apple to develop technology to help the FBI break the security on an iPhone. Apple has resisted the FBI's demand and is expected to appeal the order. Privacy advocates fear that the FBI is trying to set a precedent in court that will make it easier not just for the U.S. government but also for foreign governments to demand that technology companies comply automatically with broad government requests for citizens' private information. If the FBI has its way, this precedent would be set without a debate and vote by Congress, bypassing the shift in public attitudes on government surveillance following Edward Snowden's revelations.

The ACLU and Amnesty International back Apple's legal fight against the court order. The ACLU said: “The Constitution does not permit the government to force companies to hack into their customers' devices...The government's request also risks setting a dangerous precedent. If the FBI can force Apple to hack into its customers' devices, then so too can every repressive regime in the rest of the world.” [1] Amnesty said: "Apple is right to fight back in this case: the FBI's request ... would set a very dangerous precedent. Such backdoors undermine everyone's security and threaten our right to privacy. Undermining mobile security ... threatens privacy and freedom of expression at a time when [it] is a clear lack of checks and balances that prevent[s] authorities from abusing surveillance powers." [2]

Urge Congress to debate and vote on the government's power to break encryption and to push the FBI to step back in the meantime by signing our petition.