Some of the world’s biggest technology companies including Amazon, Cisco, Facebook, Google, Twitter and eBay have come together in an unprecedented show of solidarity with Apple in its attempts to battle an FBI court order demanding that it circumvent its security protections.
Some 17 companies filed two separate amici curiae – court briefs typically presented by parties which aren’t involved in a case but want to express support for someone who is.
Intel and AT&T are also said to have filed separate briefs.
In one amicus curiae, some of the Silicon Valley giants describe the FBI’s use of the 1789 All Writs Act to force Apple’s hand on the issue as “unprecedented and unnecessary.”
“The court should vacate its order compelling Apple to engineer security flaws into its own software and deny the government’s motion to compel,” the brief states.
In fact, a Brooklyn judge this week agreed that the archaic piece of legislation should not be used to compel Apple to help the Feds access a suspect’s iPhone in another case, so the tide certainly appears to be turning against the Justice Department.
Apple has a full and regularly updated list of all those organizations supporting its position on its site.
The FBI wants Apple to effectively write new code which will bypass three key features, so that it can brute force the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.
These are: an auto-erase function which kicks in after 10 failed attempts at guessing the passcode; a feature which mandates manual entry of the passcode; and a milliseconds delay which drags out any brute force attempt into a matter of years.
Apple claims acceding to the request would set a dangerous precedent for the government to request similar ‘backdoors’ in the future, and that it would undermine its reputation on security – at potentially great commercial cost.
It’s also likely that foreign governments including China would request similar if the FBI has its way.
Gartner distinguished analyst Avivah Litan argued this week that the FBI could find out much more useful information by analyzing cellular metadata, than trawling through Farook’s iPhone.
By applying analytics and smart algorithms to this data it could be possible to find out who the killers were contacting with their now destroyed secondary devices, she claimed.
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