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The legal face-off between the CEO of Apple and the director of the FBI is being judged in the court of a public opinion over a real judge`s

NIGHTLY-NEWS-04

NEWS-04

FBI is being judged in the court of a public opinion over a real judge`s

order demanding Apple help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the San

Bernardino attackers.>

impassioned battle over security versus privacy raging in cyberspace. In a

new blog posting, the FBI`s James Comey says agents could not look San

Bernardino shooting survivors in the eye or themselves in the mirror if

they didn`t try everything possible to find out what was on an iPhone left

behind by one of the attackers Syed Farook.>

LESTER HOLT (00:10:34): The legal face-off between the CEO of Apple and the director of the FBI is being judged in the court of a public-- public opinion over a real judge`s order demanding Apple help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers. As NBC`s Pete Williams tells us, a new poll out tonight shows the public is on the FBI`s side.

(Begin VT)

PETE WILLIAMS (00:10:57): The two generals are now engaging each other directly and the impassioned battle over security versus privacy raging in cyberspace. In a new blog posting, the FBI`s James Comey says agents could not look San Bernardino shooting survivors in the eye or themselves in the mirror if they didn`t try everything possible to find out what was on an iPhone left behind by one of the attackers Syed Farook. "We don`t want to break anyone`s encryption or set a master key loose on the land," he says. A new poll out tonight shows fifty-one percent say Apple should help the FBI unlock that phone. Thirty-eight percent side with Apple. A former Homeland Security official says now that Apple admits it could open the phone, the company`s image as defender of privacy no longer depends on who wins this battle.

STEWART BAKER (Former Homeland Security Official) (00:11:43): I don`t think that the Chinese government or the Russian government is waiting around to see whether the FBI wins this case to decide what they are going to make Apple do.

PETE WILLIAMS (00:11:52): But in an email today to employees, Apple`s CEO Tim Cook says if the company is forced to create new software to help the FBI this time, it would be the equivalent of a master key that could open millions of phones. The only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn`t abused, he says, and doesn`t fall into the wrong hands is never to create it. Washington lawyer Ted Olsen representing the company says the government has never demanded this much of Apple.

TED OLSEN (00:12:19): It`s been asked not just to open a door but to create a door, create a lock, and then create a new key for the lock, and once it does that, your iPhone is not safe anywhere.

PETE WILLIAMS (00:12:29): The next move comes later this week when Apple formally files in court. Then it`s up to the judge.

Pete Williams, NBC News, Washington.

(End VT)

LESTER HOLT (00:12:37): A somber day at the Supreme Court today as the justices returned to the bench for the first time since the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Chief Justice John Roberts began the session with a tribute noting the black drapery on Scalia`s chair right next to his and calling Scalia our man for all seasons, saying we will miss him beyond measure.

(00:12:57): Much of the Deep South is on alert for potentially powerful storms threatening twenty million people across five states with possible tornadoes, high winds and hail. The severe weather is predicted to hit tomorrow afternoon in Louisiana and will spread all the way to Georgia and north Florida with the threat lasting well into the evening.

END

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