Security & Fraud

PayPal Cofounder Says Apple Should Unlock iPhone

The Apple-FBI saga continues with more tech industry execs weighing in on what they think Apple should be doing.

The latest to join the conversation is Max Levchin, CEO of Affirm and PayPal cofounder, who was interviewed late last week by Charlie Rose. Unlike the stance that’s been voiced by companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, Levchin took a bit of a different stance, suggesting that Apple should have to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s phone.

“I ultimately hope that this propels its way to the Supreme Court very quickly, and the Supreme Court actually tells Apple, ‘You are compelled to open this phone up,’” Levchin said during the interview. “I personally want to see this case in front of the FBI with every bit of evidence so that they have access to whatever information they need to make sure my kids are safe.”

Levchin clarifies his comments, however, by saying that Apple should abide by the FBI’s request in this specific case, suggesting that doing so for one case doesn’t set the tone for all future cases. Interestingly enough, he uses the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the vacant spot it leaves on the bench to make his case as to why Apple should allow access for this specific case.

“We have a four-against-four court, which means it doesn’t set precedent,” he said in the interview. “The court can compel Apple to open this one phone, and then it still goes in front of Congress. And we still have the public debate, and we still fundamentally decide what society would want to be.”

Apple’s argument against unlocking the phone has more to do with the security vulnerabilities it claims could be created as a result, which Apple says could leave millions of consumers’ products improperly protected. Building a software tool for the FBI to use to access an iPhone such as in this case would impact the security of all iPhones, Apple claims.

“The FBI is asking Apple to weaken the security of our products. Hackers and cybercriminals could use this to wreak havoc on our privacy and personal safety. It would set a dangerous precedent for government intrusion on the privacy and safety of its citizens,” Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell wrote in prepared remarks ahead of an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee today (March 1).

“Hundreds of millions of law-abiding people trust Apple’s products with the most intimate details of their daily lives — photos, private conversations, health data, financial accounts and information about the user’s location, as well as the location of their friends and families. Some of you might have an iPhone in your pocket right now, and if you think about it, there’s probably more information stored on that iPhone than a thief could steal by breaking into your house. The only way we know to protect that data is through strong encryption,” he continued.

To listen to more of Levchin’s argument, check out the video above.


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