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Apple CEO Tim Cook, FBI's Comey Invited to Talk Encryption Before Congress

The request is not legally binding.

The Verge and Getty Images

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and FBI Director James Comey have been invited to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to discuss the encryption issues that have put them at odds.

The requests, which are not legally binding (like a subpoena), come at the behest of Chairman Fred Upton, subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy and ranking members Frank Pallone and Diana DeGette. Upton and Murphy are Republicans, and Pallone and DeGette are Democrats.

Cook and Comey, who are currently fighting one another in the courts over Apple encryption on a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, are being asked to talk “about the issues presented by ongoing debate related to encryption technologies.”

The letters explicitly mention “the recent order by a federal magistrate … to assist the FBI in ‘unlocking’ a security feature of a phone” connected with the San Bernardino mass shooting in December. Late Tuesday evening, Cook posted a public letter saying that the company planned to challenge the judge’s ruling, as it would force Apple to compromise the privacy and security of its customers. Earlier on Friday, the Justice Department filed a motion in federal court backing up the FBI and seeking to require Apple to comply with the judge’s order.

You can read the letter to Tim Cook here, and the letter to James Comey over here.

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