Rand Paul says Apple should not be compelled to hack San Bernardino terrorist's cell-phone

02/19/2016 07:41 PM

LEXINGTON — As the U.S. Department of Justice seeks to force Apple to comply with an FBI order to help the agency crack an encrypted iPhone used by one of the attackers in the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says the tech giant should not have to comply.

Apple has strongly opposed the court-ordered request from the FBI to open the phone, which is linked to the attack in California that killed 14 people Dec. 2.

“What’s extraordinary about this warrant, or this court order, is that they’re asking Apple to devise a way into the phone when no such system exists currently,” Paul said. “So this would be an extraordinary warrant because they’re compelling Apple to become part of the police force and think up something new.”

Paul warned that some think that the move would be a violation of First Amendment rights, and he said that “we ought to think twice before we decide we’re going to be compelling phone companies to come up with things like this.”

Kentucky’s junior U.S. senator also warned that “weakening” the codeware by creating a backdoor into the phone would make more people vulnerable to attack by “hackers and thieves.”

“One of the main reasons things are encrypted is so people can’t steal your stuff,” Paul said.

As Paul makes his pitch for the encrypted apps and phones, the National Security Agency’s director has also recently announced that encryption is making it much more difficult for the intelligence agency to intercept communications from terrorist groups like ISIS. NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers said that encryption software helped the terrorist attackers in Paris, France, hide before carrying out their deadly attacks in November.

Paul, however, disputed the notion that the NSA could have stopped the attacks and that the agency would have been able to gather that intelligence.

“The people who want us to give up our liberty and say, ‘We can’t catch any terrorists without you giving up your liberty, without you giving up your privacy,’ these are people who have a history of not being honest,” Paul said, referencing National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s infamous 2013 public hearing telling Congress the NSA did not wittingly collect bulk data of American’s phone records. It was later revealed that collection was allowed under the Patriot Act.

“I think we give up on who we are, and the terrorists win if we give up on our privacy and we violate the Bill of Rights just for simple expediency and for a false promise of security that I don’t think is actually true,” he said.

Paul spoke to Pure Politics in Lexington on Friday on a leg of a three-day, 18-stop swing through the region after coming off a failed bid for the White House. The Bowling Green Republican is now focused on his re-election campaign.

Watch Monday’s edition of Pure Politics on cn|2 for more from the interview with Paul, including a discussion on his presidential run and the fight over naming a successor to former Justice Antonin Scalia.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.