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Petitioning Senator Dianne Feinstein and 5 others

A Win-Win-Win Solution to the Apple vs. FBI vs. Citizens Case

We invite and encourage citizens, employees and leaders of other information technology companies who share a similar view to add their signatures to the petition below asking that Congress, not an Executive Branch agency, lead the debate to define the appropriate balance between society's legitimate interests in effective law enforcement and National security, and individual citizens' and companies’ interests in preserving their Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties and privacy from over-zealous intrusion by unelected government  bureaucrats.   

We will send this on all of our behalf to Senators, Feinstein and Boxer and Representatives Pelosi, Lofgren, Issa and others in districts you recommend.            

To The Honorable Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, Representative Pelosi, Representative Lofgren, Representative Issa,and the Congress of the United States of America:

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to assume the leadership required to engage as a member of the American people’s Congress to examine, debate, and ultimately define appropriate 21st century legislative policy balancing the American citizenry’s Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties and privacy rights, and the legitimate interests of our 21st century society in effective law enforcement and National Security.  

We believe it is your sworn Constitutional duty to make era-defining legislative policy, and that this should not be the purview of unelected Executive Branch functionaries.   We believe that Director Comey’s approach to solving a problem his agency created by attempting to compel Apple to destroy the functional value of its own products that hundreds of millions of American citizens depend on is dangerously misguided because it ignores far larger issues affecting every American citizen and American society’s economic, social, and political freedoms.

In the recent House Judiciary Committee hearing FBI Director Comey asked if United States really wants to have “warrant-free places.” The answer has been an unambiguous “Yes” since September 25, 1789 when the Founding era Congress passed the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect citizens from abuses of government authority. One of those fundamental projections establishes and guarantees the sanctity of a specific evidence-free zone: the mind of every American Citizen. No American executive, legislative, or judicial authority can compel any American citizen to unwillingly disclose what is in their mind if that citizen believes doing so might result in the loss of their own liberties or Freedom. Unfortunately, near ubiquitous phone cameras are making it all too apparent that many innocent citizens have good reason to live in fear of being wrongly incriminated in a crime by over-zealous police and prosecutors. Most Americans are outraged and agree that these systemic social problems must be fixed. Assuring every American that the images and other information they create on personally owned devices is protected from illegal search and seizure.

Another fact that may be startling to many Legislators, but will not be to many law enforcement and National security professionals is how close the American information technology industry is to delivering next-generation products and services designed to dramatically expand the cognitive and intellectual capacity and capability of individual human beings.  I.e., to virtually extend a person’s mind into cyberspace.   This is no longer science fiction.  A growing number of extremely competent companies, from the very largest to hundreds of smaller companies and startups, are investing Billions of dollars in this endeavor today.   This practical reality has immense practical, social. Economic, political, and other implications that need to be addressed in the debate and resulting legislative policies balancing citizens’ rights and their government’s capacity and capability to fulfill its’ legitimate obligations in the 21st century and beyond.

This overdue debate should not be about pitting National security and law enforcement against privacy and civil liberties.   It should be focused on examining alternative legislative approaches and solutions that actually enhance intelligence community and law enforcement capabilities while simultaneously strengthening citizen civil liberties and privacy protections.

Director Comey’s recent testimony before the House Judiciary committee indicates that the precedential implications of compelling an American commercial enterprise to manufacture a technical solution to a problem he acknowledged his own agency created are precisely what he intends the FBI to pursue.

Dir. Comey’s desire to do everything possible to discover what, if any, information might be on the iPhone used a terrorist is appropriate, legitimate, and correct.   However, choosing to limit his agency’s, Apple’s, and the American people’s option to bending the 1789 All Writs Act to compel Apple to manufacture malware that can be reused to access any current-generation iPhone fails to consider more practical, efficient, and less dangerous alternative mechanisms for achieving his stated objective.

Gen. Michael V. Haden, former Director of both the CIA and NSA, has publically stated that compelling Apple to produce mechanism to defeat the security measures imbedded in its own operating system will certainly and inevitably result in targeting, discovery, and exploitation by criminal enterprises and foreign and domestic intelligence agencies.

Alternative solutions are still possible, but lasting resolutions designed to address and satisfy the legitimate requirements of a free citizenry and their Government must first be addressed in 21st century legislative policy; not executive agency attempts to set precedent they view solely through the narrow lens of prosecutorial prerogative.

The technical mechanisms to auditably assure satisfactory outcomes for executive branch law enforcement agencies, industry and citizens already exist.  What is missing are pragmatic public policy alternatives to 18th century Writs, and the leadership by daring members of the people’s Congress to implement and oversee 21st century legislative policies.

We are asking that you do your duty, and engage in your capacity as a member of Congress to represent the constituents who elected you to represent them in an era-defining examination and construction of 21st century legislative policy defining the balance between current and future generations of the American people’s constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties and rights, their larger society’ legitimate interests in effective law enforcement and National security necessary to preserve their optimism, innovation, creative genius, and democracy.   


Mitch Ahlenius  &  Geoffrey Shaw & the names of supporters below.

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