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Apple to again square off against FBI in Congress over encryption

Apple's top lawyer is scheduled to appear before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee next week, presumably to offer testimony on the pitfalls of granting law enforcement privileged access to encrypted devices.

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on Thursday published the names of witnesses slated to offer testimony at a hearing entitled "Deciphering the Debate Over Encryption: Industry and Law Enforcement Perspectives," noting Apple counsel Bruce Sewell will lead off the second of two panels set for next Tuesday.

Reuters reported on the announcement earlier today.

Taking part in the first panel will be FBI Executive Assistant Director for Science and Technology Amy Hess, who is to be joined by other law enforcement officials including Thomas Galati, chief of the NYPD's Intelligence Bureau. Government representatives are likely to push for privileged access to data and consumer devices in the name of public safety, the same argument raised by FBI Director James Comey relayed during a congressional hearing last month.

Amit Yoran, president of RSA Security, and noted cryptography expert Matt Blaze are among the security experts slated to appear with Sewell. The second panel is expected to argue the merits of keeping encrypted system completely secure.

Next week will mark Sewell's second appearance in front of ranking lawmakers in as many months, following testimony provided to the House Judiciary Committee in March. At the time, Apple's legal chief characterized the encryption issue as "an arms race with criminals, cyber terrorists and hackers." By implementing strong encryption protocols and keeping those methods free of backdoors, Apple has created a secure environment for its customers, he said.