Apple may have support in its fight with the FBI from an unexpected source — a federal statute designed to give law enforcement certain access to telecommunications infrastructure. Susan Crawford, who is a professor at Harvard Law School and served as President Barack Obama’s Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy in 2009, suggests in this Backchannel article that Section 1002 of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) explicitly withholds from the government the authority “to require any specific design of equipment, facilities, services, features or system configurations” from any phone manufacturer. Since specific statutes, like CALEA, trump general ones, like the All Writs Act, Crawford believes the FBI will have to go back to Congress if it wants reinterpret what’s allowed by CALEA.
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