U.S. Attorney General defends FBI case against Apple on Stephen Colbert’s show

As the iPhone unlocking case becomes more heated, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch went on late night television to defend the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s stance.

During an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert this evening, Lynch said that though the Department of Justice and Apple have disagreed publicly in court, with the DOJ accusing the tech company of “corrosive” and “false” rhetoric in a court filing earlier today, she’s “had a number of great discussions with Tim Cook on the issues of privacy.”

“What I’ll say about this, though, is that I understand why this is important to everybody, because privacy is an important issue for everyone,” she added. “It’s important to me as the attorney general, it’s important to me as a citizen.”

The case revolves around an iPhone (see TechCrunch’s full coverage here) used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two shooters who attacked a social services center and killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, last December.

Apple is currently fighting against a court order from the government to create special software so law enforcement can unlock the device. The company says this would not only compromise the security of all iPhone users, but also set a dangerous precedent for civil liberties. Many other tech firms—including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft—have publicly taken Apple’s side.

Lynch told Colbert that the iPhone in question was already the property of the government, not a private citizen, since Farook was employed by San Bernardino County and given it as a work phone.

Colbert stated that Apple chief executive officer Cook “says it’s a slippery slope if they invent this backdoor, this cracking of security, then y’all can use it for anything else. He said you can use it to turn on my iPhone and spy on me if you wanted to once you had access.”

“First of all, we’re not asking for a backdoor, nor are we asking anyone to turn anything on to spy on anyone. We’re asking them to do what their customer wants. The real owner of the phone is the county, the employer, of one of the terrorists who is dead,” Lynch replied.

“What we’re asking them to do is to help us disable the password erase function, that basically wipes the phone if you guess the password wrong after ten times. We will try to enter the phone and extract the evidence under the court order we have gotten that is very narrow and very focused.”

Apple vs FBI