Apple’s row with the US Justice Department regarding smartphone encryption, unlocking and back-doors continues, and now a number of high profile companies in the technology industry are planning to file a joint motion in support of Apple. According to people familiar with the matter, Alphabet Inc, Facebook, and Microsoft are among the names on the list.
At least one other major tech company is expected to join the filing, with Twitter’s name being suggested as a possible candidate. Although the official wording is yet to be announced, the joint motion is expected to generally support the idea that unlocking smartphones, even those owned by alleged terrorists, would undermine industry efforts to protect users’ digital information.
This won’t be the first time that key industry players have come out on Apple’s side of the argument, but a combined and very public united front involving a number of household Silicon Valley names will certainly up the ante. Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith told Congress on Thursday that his company would file a motion supporting Apple. Google CEO Sundar Pichai took to Twitter last week to voice his concerns, stating that law enforcement plans would set a “troubling precedent,” and Facebook’s Mike Zuckerberg has also offered similar sentiments about security back-doors not being an “effective way to increase security.”
The dark side of encryption is also the light side
This news comes after Apple filed a motion asking U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym to effectively reverse her order demanding that the company aid investigators in bypassing security pass-codes on the iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, who was involved in December’s San Bernardino shooting. The company argued that the order was “unprecedented” and that it had no support within the law.
“No court has ever authorized what the government now seeks, no law supports such unlimited and sweeping use of the judicial process, and the Constitution forbids it.” – Apple
Apple, along with others in the industry, argue that it should be up to the Congress to make a ruling around the issue of encryption and digital security, rather than courts and the FBI taking matters, and effectively the law, into their own hands. The debate has polarized opinions across the country and around the world. Clearly, there is still a way to go before a resolution is found.