Apple-FBI duel is playing big at SXSW

March 13 23:41 2016

From President Obama’s answer to a question on the topic following his keynote speech Friday, to an excoriated rebuke from U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) today, the privacy-vs.-national security debate is front, center and in the background here. “SXSW has been s a melting pot of ideas and policy on immigration, cybersecurity, privacy, Internet of Things, international trade and innovation,” says U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), who has attended the interactive festival the past few years. “This case (Apple-FBI) cuts across so many of them.”apple-store

The case even made a brief cameo during an early morning panel on cyberbullying at the Online Harassment Summit on Saturday, “The focus should be on one word: ownership,” said Michelle Dennedy, chief privacy officer at Cisco Systems, one of several dozen tech companies that filed an amicus brief in support of Apple this month. “We do not build backdoors into Cisco products.”

The heavily politicized standoff has pitted one of the world’s most powerful companies against one of the largest law-enforcement agencies, pitting the tech industry and privacy advocates vs. the federal government and national security stalwarts. The Department of Justice has requested Apple hack the data contents of an iPhone found in the possession of Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the Dec. 2 San Bernardino attacks that left 14 dead and 22 wounded.

Apple has repeatedly called the government’s request unconstitutional, and has requested Congress to enact legislation on encryption. The two sides are headed to a March 22 showdown in a federal court in southern California. The combatants may be based in Cupertino, Calif., and Washington, D.C., but Austin became the latest dateline in the dust-up. In a nuanced, 10-minute answer to a question about the case after his SXSW keynote speech Friday afternoon, Obama, a constitutional lawyer, said “There has to be some concession to the need to get into that information somehow.”