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Affirm CEO Max Levchin Wants Apple to Open the iPhone -- But Just This Once

That's a mighty thin line you're walking, Mr. Levchin!

Asa Mathat

That’s a mighty thin line you’re walking, Mr. Levchin!

Max Levchin, the Affirm CEO and Paypal founder, was interviewed by Charlie Rose Friday night and shared a somewhat surprising stance on Apple’s legal battle with the FBI. Levchin said he wants Apple to help government officials gather data from a locked iPhone that was used by terrorists responsible for a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., back in December. This is the opposite viewpoint of many of Silicon Valley’s other prominent tech leaders, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

“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.”

Buuut … there’s a catch. Levchin wants Apple to help just this once, and has a plan for how to avoid setting a precedent for companies breaking through their own security measures at every government request. It hinges on the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the unusual political situation his absence causes.

“We have a four against four court, which means it doesn’t set precedent,” he explained. “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.”

Well. That’s one scenario. Here’s a look at the interview snippet from Charlie Rose.

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