Orenstein concluded that the government shouldn't be able to get iPhone backdoors through magistrate judges—rather, the "debate … must take place among legislators."The House Judiciary Committee apparently strongly agrees. From the start, the committee members indicated a hard disapproval of the FBI's actions in the San Bernardino case. The ranking member of the committee, Rep. Conyers noted that he has long opposed mandating backdoors, but that reasonable minds could disagree on the topic.
"I would be deeply disappointed if it turns out the government is found to be exploiting a national tragedy to pursue a change in the law," Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) told Comey.
After that, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) opened his questioning by quoting the late Justice Antonin Scalia: "There is nothing new in the realization that the Constitution sometimes insulates the criminality of a few in order to protect the privacy of all of us." Issa's questioning was overtly hostile in tone, delving deep into the technical details of the iPhone 5c. Comey was at loss, admitting, "I have not answered the questions you have asked me today and I am not entirely sure I understand the questions."Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) then said to Comey, "As I was hearing your opening statement talking about a world where everything is private, it may be the alternative is a world where nothing is private. Because once you have holes in encryption, the question is not if but when those holes will be exploited." She asked some loaded questions about whether China or other foreign government would be able to exploit US-mandated backdoors, and then, in a surprising move, referred to the iCloud hack in 2014, and then seemed to embrace the possibility that Apple would, in the future, encrypt iCloud accounts.Not all of the questioning was adversarial to the FBI director, but the bulk of it was, with the committee's ranking member leading the (bipartisan) charge—a surprising direction for a committee that has been relatively deferential to Comey in the past. Perhaps it's the opinion polls, perhaps it's Apple lobbying behind the scenes, or perhaps the FBI's attempt to push the encryption debate through the courts, rather than Congress, that has really has raised the hackles of the House Judiciary Committee. Either way, something in the air is changing, and Congress is clapping back.
"I have not answered the questions you have asked me today and I am not entirely sure I understand the questions."