The FBI is facing claims it deliberately selected the emotionally charged case of the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone to force a precedent on encryption policy.

“I think the FBI is being very selective here, and it has much more to do with the emotional value and public relations value of the case than it does with the FBI’s real need for the phone,” former White House counterterrorism and cybersecurity chief Richard Clarke told The Hill.

Led by Director James Comey, the FBI has for months advocated different avenues for law enforcement to access locked communications with the appropriate court order. Technologists and privacy advocates have pushed back, insisting that impenetrable encryption is indispensable to online security and privacy.

The latest salvo in what’s become an increasingly bitter fight came last week, when the agency asked federal judge Sheri Pym to issue a court order demanding Apple write a piece of software to disable certain security features on the county-owned work phone of San Bernardino, Calif., shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

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