White House: Privacy Not at Risk Following FBI Hack Success

White House press secretary Josh Earnest says the American people should not be worried about the government hacking their phones at will.

That came in the wake of the news that the FBI had hacked into the San Bernardino shooter's phone without Apple's help and had dropped a court effort to force Apple to comply.

Asked at a press conference whether the American public had any presumption of privacy given law enforcement's ability to hack into phones, Earnest said "absolutely."

"[T]he reason that they should be confident in that privacy is because there are laws on the books that are assiduously followed by our law enforcement and national security officials that protect the privacy of the American people."

He said the way the Apple/FBI debate played out in the courts was the system working as it should, and that the President shared that sentiment.

"The whole debate between Apple and the FBI in the context of this investigation was actually taking place not between the two of them, but actually in a court of law – because there was a judge that was presiding over this debate to ensure that the privacy of the American people was protected," he said. "And that is the way that our system should work, and that is why people can have confidence in their right to privacy – because we know that there are laws that are on the books that are assiduously followed by our national security and law enforcement professionals to protect that privacy.  And we have a whole judicial branch that understands that they have a need to interpret that law to both protect our privacy but also to keep us safe.  And that is essentially, in the mind of the President, exactly how this process should play out."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.