Tech companies showing support for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) after the company announced their decision to defy the FBI and refuse to build a decryption tool which government agencies could use to break into iPhones.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) have joined Google and WhatsApp in voicing support for Apple’s decision not to help the FBI hack their own devices. In a statement issued yesterday, Facebook has said that they condemn terrorism and appreciate the work of law enforcement agencies but they cannot comply with requests from law enforcement which require “companies to weaken the security of their systems”.
Meanwhile, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “We stand with @tim_cook and Apple (and thank him for his leadership)!” yesterday. Even Apple rival, Microsoft expressed support yesterday by sharing a letter from the Reform Government Surveillance (RGS), a group of tech companies advocating for more transparency on how governments collect electronic data. The letter stated that “technology companies should be required to build in backdoors to the technologies that keep their users’ information secure.”
Meanwhile, the response of lawmakers in Washington to Apple’s decision has been less warm and more split. Many Republicans, including Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, have stated that Apple’s refusal to help the FBI and other government agencies decrypt their devices makes it significantly more difficult for these agencies to protect the US against domestic terrorist threats.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance stated yesterday that his office has 175 iPhones involved in criminal cases which it cannot decrypt although they might contain vital information about criminal activities. Both Vance and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton have condemned Apple’s actions and said that technology giants like Apple and Google who refuse to collaborate with law enforcement and government agencies are “acting like teenagers saying ‘nobody can tell me what to do.’”
The Democratic House Judiciary Committee, on the other hand, has stated that the court order for Apple to decrypt their own devices undermines the legislative process. In a statement issued yesterday, the Committee members stated that the government had no legal reason to make this kind of a demand on Apple.
Their statement also emphasized that “properly understood, strong encryption is our best defense against online criminals – including terrorist organizations” and that strong encryption is necessary both to “the Internet economy” and to “the protection of both free expression and privacy”.