The White House will not be supporting draft legislation that would allow courts to force tech companies like Apple to help law enforcement hack into encrypted devices, reports Reuters.
The Senate Intelligence Committee in February announced plans to impose criminal penalties on companies that fail to comply with court orders like the one challenged by Apple and finally withdrawn by the FBI. Remarks by President Obama last month appeared to suggest he would support the proposed legislation, but it now appears this isn’t the case …
President Obama still not allowed to use an iPhone, but White House tech update mean his aides now can
President Barack Obama has said in the past that he’s not allowed to use an iPhone for security reasons (though he does use a WiFi-only iPad) – but the NY Times reports that senior White House aides finally can. The change of policy comes as part of a major update to elderly White House technology.
The latest to speak out on the Apple and FBI controversy is none other than President Obama who earlier today attended a talk at South by Southwest Interactive. While the talk was about “civic engagement in the 21st Century,” the conversation not surprisingly turned to the government’s role in the high-profile Apple and FBI case.
Obama made it clear that he isn’t behind Apple in the case, saying that tech companies shouldn’t “take an absolutist view” on encryption and encouraging them to make concessions instead of forcing Congress to pass new law:
Apple’s strong position on privacy and encryption has been at odds with the United States government’s pressure to step up its national security efforts in the wake of recent terrorist attacks across the globe. In short, iPhones are encrypted to protect customer data from prying eyes, and law enforcement agencies believe that gives criminals a safe haven for communication that can’t be traced.
The Obama administration including the former and current attorney general and FBI director have strongly voiced opposition to Apple’s position, and Tim Cook reportedly pressed the White House to back strong encryption as recently as this week. So it’s no surprise that Tim Cook and Apple came up at the end of last night’s Republican presidential debate hosted by the Fox Business channel where at least one candidate was asked to address his position on the subject.
Last week potential Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush made headlines when he was spotted wearing an Apple Watch on the still-exploring-but-definitely-running campaign trail, using the press opportunity as a chance to dish out the zinger that its health apps were better than Obamacare.
The White House has given its own endorsement of Apple today, however, as President Obama launched his own personal Twitter account (not to be confused with the OFA-ran @BarackObama account) with a tweet that originated from an iPhone.
We learned earlier this week that Tim Cook would be speaking at a White House cybersecurity summit today, and it now appears he will be the only tech CEO to do so. USNews is reporting that CEOs of other top tech companies all declined President Obama’s invitation, sending lower-ranking execs in their place.
Unlike Apple’s Cook, other top executives at key Silicon Valley companies declined invitations to the summit. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Google’s Larry Page will not attend amid the ongoing concerns about government surveillance. Facebook spokesman Jay Nancarrow said Zuckerberg is unavailable to attend and that Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan will speak during a panel at the event.
It’s believed other CEOs consider refusing to take part to be the best way to express their objections to increased government surveillance of electronic communications, while Cook takes the opposite view: that it is important to speak up in defence of user privacy …
We’re used to seeing row upon row of Macbooks at tech press events, but the popularity of Apple’s laptop seems equally strong among mainstream journalists. The Huffington Post’s senior congressional reporter Michael McAuliff tweeted that the press gallery at last night’s State of the Union address “looks like a damn Apple ad.”
By far the majority of the laptops visible in the photo of the press gallery above the House floor have the familiar glowing Apple logo.[tweet https://twitter.com/mmcauliff/status/557715212858839040]
The White House also embraced technology by posting the full text of the speech as a blog post on Medium before the President got up to speak. As last year, though, there were few references to technology in the address, the main one urging Congress “to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.”
Microsoft also had to look out at a sea of glowing Apple logos when launching Windows 10 …[tweet https://twitter.com/AustenAllred/status/558029756277743616/]
Apple profiles its effort in Obama’s ConnectED education program: 114 schools receiving Macs, iPads, & Apple TVs
The White House shared earlier this year that Apple is a participant in President Obama’s ConnectED education program focused on bringing Internet access and technology to schools in need, and today Apple has provided a micro site profiling its effort in the program.
While it was already known that Apple has pledged $100 million to provide iPads, MacBooks, and other products toward the program for schools across the United States, Apple has shared that Apple ConnectED grants are being received by a total of 114 different schools across the country with these schools spread out across 29 states. Apple added that “92% of students from our partner schools are of Hispanic, Black, Native American, Alaskan Native, or Asian heritage.”
The program, designed to bring high-speed Internet to 99 percent of schools within five years, is being supported by Apple, which is donating $100M worth of iPads and other equipment.
Obama has also been seen using a Mac (with a Presidential seal covering the logo), but says he is not allowed to use an iPhone for security reasons.
The WSJ reports that after years of worsening patent legislation in the US, the Obama administration has finally decided to try to do something about it.
The president has taken a dim view of certain patent-holding firms. In February, he said some firms “don’t actually produce anything themselves. They’re just trying to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea to see if they can extort some money out of them.”
Apple, depending on who you ask, is sometimes the agressor in patent cases but is often the victim of frivolous lawsuits that often earn these patent holding companies millions and millions of dollars. These companies aren’t really companies at all; instead they are just shell companies built around a patent or a portfolio of patents, which are often overly broad or were never intended to be used in a particular way.
These lawsuits often take place in courts in Eastern Texas, where judges are notoriously friendly to trolling interests.
The administration’s plans in 5 steps:
In a recent TV interview on State of the Union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union President Jim Hoffa claimed Apple is unpatriotic for outsourcing manufacturing overseas.
“Look at Apple, they have $76 billion dollars in their checking account, and they’re not spending it… instead of investing here, everything they do is in China, or in Asia somewhere… There’s something wrong with that.”
Hoffa, in the video embedded below, urged President Obama to “challenge the patriotism” of American companies for investing outside the U.S. in his upcoming jobs speech and also proposes a tax initiative to “start spending some of that money here in America and put Americans back to work”.
Today, President Obama made history by hosting the first ever Twitter Townhall, with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. During the event, President Obama made the first live presidential tweet ever…on a MacBook Pro.
Besides using a Mac, President Obama shared his praise for Apple, but mentioned that he would love to see device parts manufactured in the United States.