After Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and other tech-giants voicing their support for Apple’s stance against creating a backdoor in iOS operating system, Apple has just got one more tech giant on its side. Microsoft has announced its complete support for Apple in the ongoing encryption row and they’re going to file legal brief in Apple’s support.
Speaking at a U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith confirmed that Microsoft supports Apple in their current legal battle with the FBI and they will file a legal brief in Apple’s support next week.
Smith pulled out an adding machine manufactured in 1912 to make his point saying “We do not believe that courts should seek to resolve issues of 21st-century technology with law written in the era of the adding machine. We need 21st-century laws that address 21st-century technology issues.”
Smith also said that they agree wholeheartedly with Apple that the right place to bring this discussion to is the House of Representatives and the Senate so the people who are elected by the people can make these decisions.
Smith emphasized that the laws need to be updated to reflect the technology of today, and that he agreed with Apple that Congress, as the elected representatives of the people, was the right place to make these kinds of important decisions.
The real concern here is, actually, the law and the implications for the future. And the only way to get the law right for the future is for Congress to act.
All Writs Act: An Obsolete Act too Old for 21st Century?
In its current form, All Writs Act was passed in 1911 and as Wikipedia defines, it authorizes the United States federal courts to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”
Apple vs FBI: What’s Going On?
FBI has demanded a special iOS version to be developed by Apple with certain security features disabled, so that an iPhone 5c belonging to San Bernardino attack shooter can be unlocked. A court ordered Apple to assist the FBI under All Writs Act which Apple has strongly opposed. Tim Cook published an open letter in protest explaining their stand.
Since then, major corporations have came forward in Apple’s support with Google CEO Sundar Pichai calling for an open discussion on the issue.
Apple vs FBI: What Bill Gates Has to Say?
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently chimed in saying “This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing.” Gates also said that there must be rules on when the government is able to access such data and hoped for a debate on the matter.
FBI has also made clarification on the issue saying they want the tool to be developed for “a single iPhone” involved in this particular case.
Apple vs FBI? Just One iPhone?
A recent court filing suggests otherwise though. According to the court filing made by Apple, there are at least 12 other iOS devices different courts have asked Apple to unlock, which Apple has objected to. In fact, there are 175 iPhones that the Manhattan District Attorney wants Apple to unlock.
In his letter, Cook feared that once developed, such tool can easily fall into wrong hands and can act as a “master key” capable of opening millions of locks.
Bard Smith also backed this saying “Every case is always only about one case, but every case, obviously, has implications for lots of other cases.”
The result of this battle will be very important. It will majorly affect how our information is safe-guarded and who holds the key to encryption.
What do you think about this matter? Feel free to add your comments.