Rep. Ted Lieu. (Neon Tommy / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., is pressing FBI Director James Comey to drop the bureau’s demand that Apple create a new operating system version that lacks key security features.

“We should all take a deep breath and talk to each other, rather than use a lawsuit to circumvent the critical and necessary policy discussions,” Lieu wrote in a letter to Comey.

“The precedent set in this case would essentially enact a policy proposal to weaken encryption that has not yet gained traction in Congress and was previously rejected by the White House,” said Lieu, one of Capitol Hill’s most active encryption advocates.

Last week, Apple defied a court order requiring the company to help investigators bypass security features on an iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of the assailants in the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attack in December that left 14 people dead.

From MarketWatch:

Law enforcement’s argument uses the All Writs Act, a 1789 catchall law that says federal judges have the authority to order someone to do what they ask. Lieu points out that this law was passed “nearly 90 years before the light bulb was invented.”

“Trying to apply an 18th century law to a 21st century technology company should not give anyone any confidence in the result,” Lieu wrote in the letter, according to a copy provided to MarketWatch by Lieu’s office.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has called the order an “unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.” The fight is playing out in public, and FBI Director Jim Comey released a letter Sunday saying Apple-backers should “stop saying the world is ending.”

Lieu also introduced a bill earlier this month that would stop states from forcing companies to weaken encryption, calling this an issue that requires a national decision.

Read more here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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