Microsoft, Google, Twitter Plan to File in Support of Apple

At a congressional hearing on Thursday, Microsoft’s legal chief Brad Smith said that the company had plans to file an amicus brief next week in support of Apple’s current situation. Mirroring the government’s argument, he said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is not seeking a “back door” by asking for help to unlock this single iPhone.

The FBI and Apple are embroiled in a bitter legal battle surrounding the cell phone of one of the San Bernardino shooting suspects. An Amazon spokesman said the company was still working on its “amicus options”.

Nick has also reported that Microsoft will be filing an amicus brief for Apple in the encryption case. Laws on technology and information technology can tend to hover in gray areas right now as new cases come about.

Representatives of Google, Facebook and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. “We land squarely on the side of more security and more encryption”.

Smith complained that by having conflicting rules and subjecting worldwide tech companies to overlapping jurisdictions, governments are “putting technology companies in the untenable position of choosing which of two conflicting laws they must obey – and which of two laws they must violate”. A Dow Jones newswire reports that Apple-supporter Facebook will be joining them. Mr Zuckerberg reiterated that support in a keynote at Mobile World Congress earlier this week. Bill Gates, the Microsoft tech titan, says Apple has access to the information and that the material should not be considered special in any way. “There is no difference between the information”.

“We do not believe that courts should seek to resolve issues of 21st century technology with law that was written in the era of the adding machine”, Smith said.

Meanwhile, the public at large appears evenly divided on the matter according to a number of polls. Around half of Americans think Apple should help the Government, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

That said, though, Cate said that he would rather see Apple win the case, in part because of the effect he thought it could have on security in the long run.

Apple also argued that if the government forced it to create new code to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino gunman, that would amount to “compelled speech and viewpoint discrimination”, both of which are violations of the First Amendment right to free speech.

The prop didn’t seem to go over terribly well, but there has been a considerable volume of opinion written against stretching the All Writs Act (which actually dates back much further than Smith’s antique) to commandeer Apple’s programming resources.

Image via House Judiciary Committee/@HouseJudiciary

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