Apple, FBI & House hearing: How the standoff could result in an encryption precedent

Apple and the FBI have been locked in a tense standoff centered on a federal judge's order to unlock the iPhone of one of the gunmen involved in the San Bernardino shooting. Now, the tech giant and federal law enforcement agency are scheduled for "The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing American's Security and Privacy" hearing in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, according to a USA Today report.

The House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from FBI Director James Comey and Bruce Sewell, senior vice president and general counsel with Apple.

Apple argues the order to create a "backdoor" into the iPhone will open a veritable Pandora's box, giving hackers and cybercriminals an avenue into the iPhones of millions consumers. The FBI insists the backdoor would be specific only to the shooter's device.

The outcome of the hearing could serve as a precedent for future cases involving tech companies and encryption, according the report.

While the results of the hearing remain uncertain, lawmakers are considering legislative action to address the core issue. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) intend to introduce legislation that would require companies to turn over encrypted data to the government if presented with a court order, according to the report.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) already introduced a bill that would create a national commission focused on digital security. The committee would bring together 16 members from law enforcement, privacy advocacy groups, tech companies and more and offer guidance on future encryption issues.

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