Apple counsel: U.S. DOJ ‘got a little bit carried away’ with encryption rhetoric

“Apple counsel Ted Boutrous told CNBC on Monday that Justice Department lawyers ‘got a little bit carried away’ with their rhetoric in the latest court filing in the tech giant’s legal battle against the government over encryption,” Eric Rosenbaum reports for CNBC. “‘There is a disconnect between the rhetoric in the Justice brief and what we have heard from [FBI Director James] Comey and President Obama,’ Boutrous said. ‘The lawyers who filed the brief got a little bit carried away with their rhetoric,’ he told CNBC.”

“Boutrous said Apple will shortly respond to the government on why the Justice Department arguments are wrong and ‘would have terrible consequences’ for national security and citizens,” Rosenbaum reports. “Ultimately, though, Apple does not believe the right forum for this battle is the courts.”

Rosenbaum reports, “‘This is a policy issue… the American people have to resolve,’ Boutrous said. ‘It’s for Congress to resolve,’ he added.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

After Apple, Obama administration’s War on Privacy targets Facebook’s WhatsApp – March 14, 2016
FBI could demand Apple source code and keys if iPhone backdoor too ‘burdensome’ – March 14, 2016
Obama criticized for ‘tone deaf’ comments at SXSW regarding Apple’s fight against government overreach – March 14, 2016
The U.S. government’s fight with Apple could backfire big time – March 14, 2016
John Oliver just smartly explained Apple’s fight against U.S. government overreach – March 14, 2016
U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa at SXSW: ‘Hold your iPhone a little bit higher, so the FBI can hear us better’ – March 14, 2016
Obama pushes for iPhone back door; Congressman Issa blasts Obama’s ‘fundamental lack of understanding’ – March 12, 2016
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch backs U.S. government overreach on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – March 11, 2016
Former CIA Director: FBI wants to dictate iPhone’s operating system – March 11, 2016
U.S. government takes cheap shots at Apple – March 11, 2016
FBI warns it could demand Apple’s iPhone code and secret electronic signature – March 10, 2016
California Democrat Diane Feinstein backs U.S. government overreach over Apple – March 10, 2016
Obama lists the ‘tech leaders’ involved in new U.S. Cybersecurity Initiative and purposely snubs Apple – March 10, 2016
Snowden: U.S. government’s claim it can’t unlock San Bernardino iPhone is ‘bullshit’ – March 10, 2016
U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa: The FBI should try to unlock shooter’s iPhone without Apple’s help – March 2, 2016
Apple: The law already exists that protects us from U.S. government demands to hack iPhone – February 26, 2016
Apple said to be prepping iOS version that even it can’t hack – February 25, 2016
U.S. Representative Darrell Issa on Apple vs. FBI: Very scary when your government wants to know more about you – February 24, 2016
U.S. government seeks to force Apple to extract data from a dozen more iPhones – February 23, 2016
Apple could easily lock rights-trampling governments out of future iPhones – February 20, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook lashes out at Obama administration over encryption, bemoans White House lack of leadership – January 13, 2016
Short-timer U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blasts Apple for protecting users’ privacy against government overreach – September 30, 2014
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013


  1. Last Friday, President Obama spoke at the SXSW conference in Austin and said that while recognizing the rights of citizens, there will be some constraints imposed by the government in order to make sure “we are safe and secure and living in a civilized society.”

    Ha, that country has not been safe, nor secure nor civilized for a good long while now.

    1. Still throwing rocks Roadkill? You paint with such a broad brush I fear your vision may be blurry. You know what they say about people living in glass houses.

      With this Apple/FBI kerfuffle we’re all on the same side here. Yet at almost every opportunity you persist in hurling broadsides and insults at a broad range of people who you apparently know little about. It’s like your seeking a fight. But of course that couldn’t be, since you’re all about peace love and understanding.

      1. Thanks for your post JWSC. I’m not really throwing rocks, just pointing out the obvious. In my opinion I consider any country that in this day and age engages in the practice of torture and then calls itself civilized has lost their way. It’s as simple as that.

        I’ve made many a post recently and I have mentioned that I am impressed with the calibre of replies that the fine people at the MDN community and I’m really happy that MDN is providing a lot of articles on the topic.

        1. I must say, your repeated hammering about the US sanctioning of torture is a pro US stance, not an attack. In the blood haze of 9/11 a whole lot of citizens signed away some of their birthright for revenge. It has happened before, and it will happen again. It is happening now. After people calm down, they go back to their jolly lives and forget to revoke the rules they imprudently allowed in a moment of national anguish. But agencies do not forget and do not have emotions. These agencies have hijacked our national emotional temper for their own inhuman survival, and do not realise how harshly they will be portrayed in a few years by historians, novelists, and poets. But agencies don’t care about reputation, only power. They are not people, even if they use something that looks like one as their spokesman, like a business suit stuffed with cockroaches. If the Bill of Rights collapses like a row of dominos, dissidents could be forced into silence or exile. And no one can claim that hasn’t happened before.

          1. Thank you for your post, it’s nice to see that someone gets it and is ready to make a statement about it.

            Personally I’d love to see the Guantanamo on the Bay Resort closed and the residents set free, or at least given a fair a just trial, along with that former president G.W. Bush. I’m not holding my breath on the latter but I hope some day some sense returns to that once great nation because right now the stuff that is being done is senseless.

            Again, thank you Herself.

    2. I watched the speech live on TV and what he actually said was that there are some constraints on absolute privacy ***already*** imposed by the US Constitution to make sure we are safe and secure. The ability of the government to get search, seizure, and arrest warrants is one of those constraints that the Founders found quite acceptable. The advent of unbreakable encryption has created “black boxes” or “Swiss banks in our pockets” that are not subject to constitutional search. We need to cope with that somehow. We either need to find a constitutionally sound way into those boxes (if such were technologically possible, which it almost certainly isn’t), or we need to accept the unpleasant consequences for the prevention and punishment of crime. The DOJ approach is horrifically overreaching, but it is basically just a panicked response to a very real risk to public safety.

      1. Thanks for your post TxUser. I’ve read a few of your recent postings and find them interesting, especially since you have a legal background.

        You are spot on with your observation, “The advent of unbreakable encryption has created “black boxes” or “Swiss banks in our pockets” that are not subject to constitutional search.” and especially your follow up comment ” We need to cope with that somehow.”

        I think that coping will be dependent on a variety of factors and countries will make up their minds as to what to do according to their own personal situation. This new level of encryption is a fantastic boon for privacy, but for better or worse is staying in my opinion. It might be outlawed in some areas and legal in others.

        One thing that sways me a bit more towards privacy is that law enforcement personnel have a plethora of forensic tools at their disposal, everything from phone records, camera surveillance, DNA and blood testing, fiber and hair analysis to name just a few. Often one does not have to turn every stone on the beach to know what’s going on with a crime.

        You wrote a long interesting post on the weekend “Why Apple is right to resist U.S. government overreach” that I found very interesting although it was a bit heavy on the “do not do” aspects rather than the “do this” aspect.

        I’m not from you country but I think that there are those here would would appreciate some guidance as the proper way to approach this to their various governmental representatives. You’ve made a long list of what is not effective, certainly highlighting what is effective would be helpful, in my opinion.

        Thank you for taking the time to share your insights on this matter.

      2. I once got audited by the IRS for a Swiss bank account …that I opened when I lived there. Never closed it, and it had a little bit of money in it. It was nothing like the Swiss bank account that folks like Mitt Romney opened, with millions of dollar or Swiss Franc balances. Or people actively avoiding US taxes.

        Anyway, it cost me _a lot_ of money to prove I was innocent. In fact, I got a tax refund. But then the IRS nailed me with huge fees for failing to complete a particular form related to …having a foreign bank account. Yet I am no doubt included in the IRS marketing statistics about “all the bad guys” they caught with undeclared Swiss bank accounts.

        So don’t talk to me about Swiss bank accounts. Not all of them are fraudulent.

        More importantly, who is to say your home is also not “a Swiss Bank Account” …in your very own house? Where does the government stop arguing that they need access to everything you own?

    1. Agreed. So why do voters keep putting the corrupt bastards in office? Election reform to end the gerrymandered districts and obscene campaign financing must happen to preserve the republic.

      Bernie is right — America is overdue for a political revolution. Kick out the corrupt two policial parties.

      1. This is laughable. When polled, Americans say Congress if full buffoons. But when asked about their own Congressperson, they say he/she is doing a pretty good job. The reality is that none of us can every expect to get what we want. There are too many people with contrarian views of the way things should be. Americans don’t “keep putting the corrupt bastards in office”, they keep putting new people in office that are corrupted by environment of big money and big power. You want to reduce corruption? Reduce the power and money that government wields.

        And Bernie is an anachronism that should crawl back under his Socialist rock. It is a failed, failed, failed economic construct. Capitalism, for all its imperfections, is still the best method of growing economic well being for the most people. Capitalism grows wealth. Socialism spends it. A country can abide a limited amount of socialism when it has a robust capitalistic foundation. But people like Bernie want to convince young, ignorant kids, that have known nothing but the fruits of their Capitalistic upbringing that it is all bad. Earning a profit is evil. Corporations are evil. Capitalism is evil. Well good luck with your Socialist baby sitting when there are no profits to spread around. In other words, effect what socialism you can afford, but don’t undermine the engine of wealth that makes it possible.

        1. Wow, that’s some of the most simplistic thinking ever.

          What do you think happens when the police force or FBI or military are privatized? Worked out so nicely for Europe in the dark ages, didn’t it? Despite the many people demonizing the word socialism, it’s a valid way to spread out costs that we all should bear and thus minimize the impact to everyone. And not just law enforcement, but libraries, road systems, and so forth have absolutely no workable capitalistic funding mechanisms. Most civilized nations in the world are seeing vastly greater overall results with socialized education through college and health care versus the USA, too. But you wouldn’t know it from the corporatocracy that has taken over the USA. They tell everyone that the USA is the greatest capitalistic nation ever — but never revealing the decades of deficit spending that consumers/citizens have in order to maintain their lifestyles since all manufacturing has been exported to communist nations. Consumer debt is near an all-time high, the very foundations of America’s capitalist systems — Wall Street and its banks — have been bailed out via extreme corporate welfare at taxpayer expense, and America is digging itself the deepest debt ever seen by any nation on the planet in history.

          Ain’t capitalism great???

          Mike is sooooo right. It’s time to decapitate the crony capitalists and elect representatives that work for the people. Term limits NOW!

  2. The rhetoric is for the public consumption especially those who have little understanding of encryption and/or worse, the Constitution.
    The FBI does not care for the one iPhone, they wanted the Holy Grail of encryption from Apple, Microsoft, Goggle, Facebook and others as an excuse to protect the American people.
    Imagine the possibilities of what the FBI or government agencies can do against the American people. Think about the Wisconsin John Doe case but this time the DOJ and the Feds are involved. Imagine having your smartphone secretly sending real time videos of what you are doing, who you meet with and etc to the FBI or any government agency or government entity. Consider the implications on how your iPhone becomes a homing beacon. Imagine the implications that your smartphone shall be used as a blackmail tool to force voters and legislators to act against their best interests.Imagine having Senator XYZ withdraw his own bill to reform the IRS or the NSA or the FBI because someone in the agency upload illicit child pornography files on his own personal smartphone and somehow the press and law enforcement found out the child porno about said Senator’s vice before the latter did. Imagine having a member of an American law enforcement agency use your own smartphone as their own personal hidden camera to stalk you.
    Imagine the consequences for thousands if not millions of people who oppose their governments worldwide. Imagine the power politicians and governments will have over their opponents and their own people. Free speech gone, freedom of association, gone, Privacy, forget about it.
    The FBI’s reasoning is about control not security. Security is extremely hard, but if you can control communications,associations, speech and movement. Security becomes a possibility only under the terms of the government and not the people.

      1. Yes please! Don’t tell us about it, just drop off the inter webs please.

        I doubt those backwaters would put up with silver hawk. They are more civil there than in the USA.

  3. If Apple ever loses this and is forced to break encryption, I will just stop using any smartphone. Not because I’m hiding anything, but just because. I can live without it. People used to before these things existing and it is not as impossible as it seems. It might just be quite refreshing. No more slave to the tech.

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