Apple-FBI crypto hearing was surprisingly hostile to FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey, 2014. [REUTERS]

The House Judiciary committee hearing today titled, “The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans’ Security and Privacy” ended up being full of drama, and riveting moments of confrontation--along with a cavalcade of inept analogies for encryption and hardware security.

The hearing follows a widely publicized battle between Apple and the FBI over a court order demanding that Apple circumvent its own encryption technology to help the FBI access whatever may be on an iPhone used by one of the two deceased killers behind a 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino.

Sarah Jeong at Vice was at the the House Judiciary committee hearing today, and filed her report for VICE.

In an unexpectedly adversarial hearing on Tuesday, the members of the House Judiciary Committee grilled FBI Director James Comey on encryption backdoors, privacy, the All Writs Act, and even highly technical details about the iPhone 5c, for over an hour.

A couple of representatives were openly hostile to Comey, but most launched passive aggressive, loaded questions at the FBI director. Even though the representatives (both Democrats and Republicans) were mostly polite, the tone of the the questioning was a huge departure from how the House Judiciary Committee typically addresses Comey.

“I would be deeply disappointed if it turns out the government is found to be exploiting a national tragedy to pursue a change in the law,” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) told Comey.

"The Apple-FBI Encryption Hearing Was Unexpectedly Hostile to the FBI Director" [motherboard.vice.com]