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Apple CEO and FBI Director square off in battle of wills over iPhone encryption

It’s February 22, 2016 and the battle between the FBI and Apple continues to ramp up as US citizens finds themselves polarized on the issue.

In case you haven’t been following: The FBI wants Apple to help them crack open the iPhone 5C used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of two terrorists involved in the recent San Bernardino attack, reportedly to gain insight into the couple’s motives and organization efforts.

Apple says that while it is sympathetic to the FBI’s plight, helping them crack open the phone essentially creates a backdoor that can’t be undone, leaving its encryption vulnerable, and setting a dangerous precedent.

Today, we’re seeing more folks move quickly to opposing sides of the issue.

On the FBI’s side we have lawyer Stephen Larson, a formal federal judge who is representing an undisclosed number of victims from the San Bernardino attack in an effort to force Apple’s hand, claiming the victims deserve to know why this happened, and that he’ll fight for them for free.

On the other hand is digital rights group, Fight for the Future, which is staging multiple protest rallies against the FBI outside Apple stores in more than 30 cities across the US, claiming what the FBI wants is tantamount to turning the clock back to a time before Fourth Amendment warrant protections existed.

Meanwhile, FBI Director James Comey published an Op-ed today, claiming the scope of its request is not nearly so grand as Apple suggests, pointing out that all it wants is the ability to try to guess the iPhone’s password without the phone essentially self-destructing. Presently, an iPhone will erase all its stored data if someone unsuccessfully guesses its password too many times.

Comey further posits that encryption technology evolves so fast that being allowed this single instance on what is already considered an old phone isn’t such a big deal, and won’t endanger anyone’s privacy rights.

Apple CEO Tim Cook countered today, saying that the FBI should drop its demands. Cook went on to call on congress to create a commission that would “discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy and personal freedoms.”

With Apple being accused of “protecting murderers” this is certainly a PR nightmare, but Apple is standing strong, unwilling to budge from its position on the matter. To be sure, this issue is going to carry on for some time, and carries with it plenty of implications. We’ll be keeping you up to date on matters as they develop. In the meantime, please let us know what you think in the comments below.

Finally, the world’s largest mobile tech show, Mobile World Congress, is well under way in Barcelona, and Digital Trends has a crack team of experts on the ground getting you up-close looks at the hottest new products coming out of the show. So far, we’ve seen LG’s impressive and modular new G5 phone, Sony’s Trio of Xperia X phones, Samsung’s anticipated 360-degree VR camera, and LG’s cute, Star-Wars like spherical robot.

And of course, we’ve got some more hands-on time with HTC’s Vive VR system, which Deputy Editor Jeff Van Camp is quick to tell you is his absolute favorite. Be sure to check out our feature to learn what makes it better than the rest, exactly, and of course check in with us often this week to keep up on the latest news coming from the big show.