In the latest sign of support for Apple’s ongoing security legal battle, Box, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech behemoths have filed an amicus brief, meaning that they have aligned interests and want their voice to be heard in the upcoming appeals.
This is a different amicus brief than the one filed by Square, Twitter, LinkedIn and others earlier today. The latest brief has more of an emphasis on pushing Congress to take action.
“The government is seeking to enlist the judiciary in re-writing laws without engaging in an essential public debate,” reads the statement.
“Amici often compete vigorously with Apple—and with each other. But amici here speak with one voice because of the singular importance of this case to them and their customers who trust amici to safeguard their data and most sensitive communications from attackers. Amici share the government’s and the public’s grief and outrage at the heinous act of terrorism that took place in San Bernardino,California, in December 2015, and they fully support the lawful investigation ofthat crime. But amici are also united in their view that the government’s order to Apple exceeds the bounds of existing law and, when applied more broadly, will harm Americans’ security in the long run.”
While the companies voice strong opposition to the horrific acts of terrorism, the concern is that an invasion of privacy will set a dangerous precedent going forward. If Apple were to build a “backdoor” that weakens security in its phones, then it’s possible that future phones could be accessed by other governments or for other more deleterious purposes.
Box CEO Aaron Levie spoke to TechCrunch about what all this means and why the tech companies are banding together. “Apple can’t build incredibly secure technology with zero weakness if the government is going to mandate they have access to that kind of data,” said Levie. “The challenge is they are using a law or statute that was created 230 years ago as a means of opening up the device” belonging to the San Bernardino hacker.
While most leaders in the tech industry are standing behind Apple, some government officials, and politicians including Donald Trump, have called upon Apple to comply with the FBI’s data requests.
The case has yet to be resolved in the courts — with potentially significant ramifications, weighing in on the Apple security debate will continue to be a priority for tech companies in the coming months.