Several tech CEO’s have come out in support of Apple, in response to the company challenging a court order demanding that Apple “unlocks” the iPhone of one of the shooters involved in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks last December.
This past Tuesday, a federal judge ordered that Apple bypass the security of the iPhone 5c belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters involved in the shooting, allowing the FBI full access to the device. The court order demanded that Apple design an operating system that, according to CNBC News, disables “the feature that erases all contents after 10 failed passcode attempts. This would allow the FBI to use as many permutations of passwords” as necessary to unlock Farook’s iPhone.
In response to the court order, Apple CEO Tim Cook posted a public letter citing the reasons the company has decided to oppose the court order, which, according to Cook, “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”
In the letter, Cook notes that the company has “worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime,” and that “Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as [they] have in the San Bernardino case.” However, the company thinks that creating, in essence, a “backdoor” to the iPhone, setting a dangerous precedent that would ultimately “undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”
Since the letter has been made public, several notable tech CEO’s have come out in support of Apple’s opposition to the court order. Last night, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took to Twitter, posting a series of five tweets in support of Apple.
“Important post by @tim_cook. Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy. We know that law enforcement and intelligence agencies face significant challenges in protecting the public against crime and terrorism. We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders. But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent. Looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promptly re-tweeted Pichai’s initial tweet. Jan Koum, CEO of the popular Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp expressed his support for Apple on Facebook: “I have always admired Tim Cook for his stance on privacy and Apple’s efforts to protect user data and couldn’t agree more with everything said in their Customer Letter today,” said Koum. “We must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set. Today our freedom and are liberty is at stake.”
Although Microsoft has yet to back Apple directly, they did indirectly offer support by quoting a statement issued on the Reform Government Surveillance website, which said that “technology companies should not be required to build in backdoors to the technologies that keep their users’ information secure.”
Other tech luminaries have yet to jump into the discussion, but Apple is expected to receive more support as the situation progresses.
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Is the court order a slippery slope that could easily be taken advantage of in the future?
An abuse of law?
Or do you agree that extreme circumstances, such as in acts of terrorism, require such invasions of privacy?
Feel free to weigh in on the comments below.