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Tech industry giants file joint amicus brief supporting Apple vs the FBI

A growing number of tech industry giants have signed a joint amicus brief backing Apple’s position on device encryption verses the FBI.

Published onMarch 4, 2016


As was expected, a number of tech industry giants have signed and filed a joint amicus brief with the courts that backs Apple’s position on device encryption and user privacy in its ongoing debate with the FBI.

There is a growing list of companies that have formally backed Apple in the case, either through the joint filing or through their own briefs. Names supporting the cause now include Google, Microsoft, Intel, Facebook, eBay, Reddit, Mozilla and Amazon, to name just a handful.

This is all related to the issue of whether or not current US laws allow for the FBI, or other law enforcement agencies, to compel companies to break encryption used in consumer electronics. The fear is that the current case involving Apple could undermine the security of user data across the industry, as encryption methods would be made exploitable. By filing the document, the group is urging the US District Court in California to overturn a motion that would compel Apple to comply with the FBI’s request to assist in the decryption of a smartphone in a criminal case.

“We believe the issues raised by the Apple case are too important to rely on a narrow statute from a different technological era to fill the Government’s perceived gap in current law. Instead we should look to Congress to strike the balance needed for 21st century technology.” – Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith

The brief explains that its members already regularly assist law enforcement agencies with their investigations, but takes issue with the way that the “All Writs Act” is being used by the FBI to force Apple to undermine its own security measures that are designed to protect consumers. The group suggests that there is no legal basis for using this centuries-old statute to essentially force tech companies to perform investigations on behalf of the government. The group seeks a ruling from the Congress to update the laws to more accurately reflect the realities of modern technology.

The document also outlines company concerns about undermining user privacy and security, due to the precedent that this ruling will set, and there are definitely some valid points in there. If you feel so inclined, you can read the full document below.

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