Privacy groups, tech giants support Apple in FBI iPhone case
Mar 04, 2016 06:00 AM EST
Privacy groups and many technlogy companies have filed a series of amicus briefs in the U.S. federal court supporting Apple in FBI iPhone case.
The privacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Access Now, and the Wickr Foundation urged a U.S. federal judge to approve Apple's request not to be compelled to build software to help FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the gunmen in the San Bernardino attack.
The American Civil Liberties Union said in the filing that a ruling in favor of the government would have catastrophic consequences, NBC News reports.
Seventeen allied tech companies including Twitter, Airbnb, LinkedIn and eBay filed a separate court amicus brief on Apple's behalf on Thursday, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 46 technologists, researchers and cryptographers, according to USA Today.
A second coalition of tech giants grouped 15 internet conpanies including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Mozilla, and Yahoo, also filed a brief in support of Apple. The tech companies urged the court to exercise caution in applying a legal decision from an era when cell phones and the Internet were unheard of.
According to Reuters, the ACLU said in the amicus brief that the law enforcement may not commandeer innocent third parties into becoming its undercover agents, its spies, or its hackers. The prominent rights group argued that the FBI's request would undermine the privacy and security of Americans.
On February 16, a California federal judge ordered Apple to write a new version of its iOS software to help FBI bypass the security of a San Bernardino shooter's iPhone. The U.S. government said the attack in San Bernardino was inspired by Islamist militants, and the FBI wants to read data on the shooter's iPhone to investigate any links with militant groups.
Apple challenges the court order, saying that creating a custom version of iOS is unprecedented and unconstitutional. Apple's CEO Tim Cook said that what the FBI is asking for is a back door or "master key" to every iPhone.
Mozilla chief legal officer Denelle Dixon said the government request is an overreach, and that the court is asking a tech company to undermine years of security.
A brief from Google-Facebook-Yahoo coalition said that the government request would raise "serious First Amendment problems".
Access Now and the Wickr Foundation said in a brief that complying with the order would undermine human rights around the globe.
A court hearing to determine whether Apple should be forced to comply with the FBI's request is set for March 22 in California federal court.