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Video: Apple lawyer Ted Olson on Apple/FBI: ‘There isn’t a middle ground’

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 16.47.09

Bloomberg hosted a lengthy interview with Apple head lawyer Theodore Olson, to discuss the ongoing FBI vs Apple case in light of the congressional hearing from yesterday. Bloomberg’s Emily Chang quizzes Olson on various aspects of the case and although much of what is said is merely a repeat of what Tim Cook and other Apple representatives have said before, there are a few new tidbits. Olson says there isn’t a middle ground he can foresee between Apple’s staunch privacy position and the data collection wishes of the FBI. Olson was last quoted saying that if the FBI got their way, it would lead to an Orwellian society.

Watch the full fifteen-minute interview below …

Olson reinforces Apple’s constitutional arguments: he says there is not a constitutional way for the government to conscript a company to change products to bend to the will of the government. He said that Apple has the right to design its product in the way that it chooses as long as those features are not unlawful. At least to date, encryption technology is not illegal.

Following comments at yesterday’s hearing, Olson says that judiciary rulings are not the place to consider this issue. This cannot be decided on a case-by-case basis as different judges may rule differently as has already been observed in the real world. Olson wants the government to balance the concerns of law enforcement without forcing companies to make their products in a particularly way. He says he isn’t sure what the final outcome will be but is hopeful the government will do the right thing. Olson says Apple has First Amendment rights to protect its product, to avoid the government compulsion of what it should have to say to its product.


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  1. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    What would happen if the FBI bought smartphones from Apple and someone outside the FBI, without the FBI’s permission and knowledge, hacked into one of them? They’d be pissed. wouldn’t they once they found out.

    • 89p13 - 7 years ago

      But the FBI / NSA is ABOVE the Law – or so they think / act.

  2. crutchcameslinking - 7 years ago

    The government needs to learn how to hack phones, IMO.
    The FBI is behaving like a tennis player threatening legal action because he doesn’t get the ball hit directy to him. Or maybe the opponent be forced to use a ping pong paddle so the match is easier for the FBI.

  3. ag80911 - 7 years ago

    Fantastic interview – regardless of what you think is right or not – there is no law that says that Apple needs to write software for the government.

  4. Thomas Marble Peak - 7 years ago

    Stand with Apple and other pro-privacy advocates. Add your name to the White House petition >>>


Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.