Tech Giants to File Joint Amicus Brief in Support of Apple over iPhone Encryption

Tech Giants Apple Encryption

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and several other companies in the internet and technology sector are united in supporting Apple in its legal battle against the U.S. government over the iPhone encryption.

Tech Giants Apple Encryption

The tech giants will a joint amicus brief asking the court to rule favoring Apple in its case against the government on Thursday, according to Reuters based on information from people familiar with the matter.

The iPhone rejected a court order requiring it help the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which demand the company to create new software to bypass the security features of the iPhone owned by one of the shooters in San Bernardino, California in December.

Apple argued that the demand of the FBI was a “dangerous” and “bad for America” because it could set a legal precedent that could put hundreds of millions of customers at risk and “trample” civil liberties.

The tech giants will submit the amicus brief to Judge Sheri Pym the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles. The companies will challenge the government’s use of the All Writs Act of 1789 as a legal argument that allows the judge to force Apple to help the FBI unlock the iPhone.

Tech giant to challenge government’s use of All Writs Act

Sources familiar with the situation said the tech giants will state in the amicus brief that All Writs Act is outdated since it was enacted before the invention of the light bulb. The amicus brief will highlight the unanimous decision in 2014 by Supreme Court, which ruled that law enforcement needs warrants to access smartphones obtained during an arrest.

Last week, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith told lawmakers that the Congress needs to update the U.S. privacy laws, which are already outdated.

Smith said, “We do not believe that courts should seek to resolve issues of 21st-century technology with a law that was written in the era of the adding machine. We need 21st-century laws that address 21st-century technology issues. And we need these laws to be written by Congress.”

During the Congressional hearing, Smith showed a 1912 adding machine, which represented the state of the art in computing devices when the current version of All Writs Act was passed by the Congress in 1911.

Standing against broad power to undermine security

Several other companies including Mozilla, Evernote, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Dropbox also expressed support for Apple.

Ramsay Homsay, general counsel of Dropbox, said, “We stand against the use of broad authorities to undermine the security of a company’s products.”

Another group including eBay, LinkedIn, Twitter and more than a dozen tech companies also filed a legal brief supporting Apple. Cisco is expected to address the court on behalf of the iPhone maker.

Chris Young, senior vice president and general manager of Intel Security Group, said, “We believe that tech companies need to have the ability to build and design their products as needed, and that means that we can’t have the government mandating how we build and design our products.”  Intel plans to file a legal brief supporting Apple.

The husband of Anies Kondoker, one of the people injured in the San Bernardino mass shooting wrote a letter indicating that they shared Apple’s concern that the software being demanded by the government could be used to hack millions of other phones.

Salihin Kondoker wrote, “I believe privacy is important, and Apple should stay firm in their decision. Neither I nor my wife, want to raise our children in a world where privacy is the tradeoff for security.”

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