One of the startling revelations from the Apple-FBI encryption case was that this wasn't the first time Apple had been asked to assist with investigory efforts into locked phones or encrypted iMessages, it was merely the first that had been brought to public attention. As we know, this strategy backfired, and one of the repercussions of this public fight is now taking the form of a petition asking for previous judicial records about government requests for technical assistance to be unsealed. Attorneys with the Cyber Initiative's Crypto Policy Project, Jennifer Granick (Director of Civil Liberties at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society) and Riana Pfefferkorn (Cryptography Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society) filed a petition on September 29th in San Francisco Federal District Court asking the court "to unseal government applications seeking technical assistance, as well as judicial opinions interpreting technical-assistance statutes and court orders obligating companies to decrypt data, to turn over encryption keys, or otherwise ensure investigator access to private data." Public access to these decisions (whether they approved or denied access) will help users of technology understand their privacy and rights over access to their data, and will assist lawmakers in producing coherent and consistent decisions, as well as in advising clients what they can expect from courts.
The Crypto Policy Project investigates and analyzes the policy and practices of the U.S. and foreign governments for forcing decryption and/or influencing crypto-related design of online platforms and services, devices, and products, both via technical means and through the courts. The project’s interdisciplinary approach includes technical analysis of policy proposals for encryption design, contributed by cryptography researchers in the Stanford Computer Science Department’s Applied Cryptography Group. The project also researches the benefits and detriments of strong encryption on free expression, political engagement, economic development, and other public interests. More information about the Crypto Policy Project can be found at https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/our-work/projects/crypto-policy-project.