Tech giants to join forces to support Apple with amicus briefs

26 Feb 2016

The biggest fight of our digital age is about to go to Washington

Tech giants Alphabet (parent of Google), Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft look set to join forces to file an unsolicited amicus brief on behalf of Apple, which is embroiled in a legal dispute with the FBI over a court order to break the encryption on the iPhone.

Apple has been ordered by a court to help crack the iPhone of the deceased Syed Farook who, along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and injured 22 others in San Bernardino, California, in December.

However, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that compromising the encryption on the iPhone would compromise the security and privacy of millions of people. He said that creating a backdoor into the iPhone would be the software equivalent of cancer.

Future Human

Most of the major tech giants agree, as it would create a precedent that would undermine their guarantees of privacy and security to billions of internet users worldwide on a variety of platforms from smartphones to cloud services.

Microsoft yesterday publicly announced that it will support Apple and will file an amicus brief next week. Other tech giants Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon are reportedly planning on doing the same.

The amicus brief process allows an interested party to file its views in a legal case that can then be taken into consideration by the courts.

Tech giants ‘wholeheartedly’ support Apple in what could be the biggest digital fight of our time

Microsoft legal counsel Brad Smith told US lawmakers that the company “wholeheartedly supports Apple” in its dispute with the FBI.

Apple yesterday filed a motion opposing a federal judge’s order to help the FBI unlock the iPhone.

Apple described the order as “unprecedented” and with “no support of the law.”

It is understood that Apple’s legal chief Bruce Sewell and FBI director James Comey will both testify at a US congressional hearing on encryption issues planned for 1 March.

US Capitol building image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years