Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech companies file court papers backing Apple

              Leading tech companies joined security experts, independent programmers and civil liberties advocates who filed court papers backing Apple in its fight with the FBI. Tech companies and security experts sign ‘friends of the court’ brief in support of Apple’s iPhone encryption case against FBI

The nation’s leading tech companies joined security experts, independent programmers and civil liberties advocates who filed court papers backing Apple in its fight with the FBI over an encrypted iPhone used by an extremist killer.

Several law enforcement groups, meanwhile, filed briefs in support of federal authorities who are seeking Apple’s help in hacking an encrypted iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino mass shooters.

These “friend of the court” briefs come in advance of a March 22 hearing in which Apple is asking U.S. Magistrate Sheri Pym to reverse an order requiring Apple to create a software program that overrides iPhone security features. That program would let authorities try to unlock Farook’s phone by guessing its passcode; Apple says it would make all other iPhones more vulnerable to future attacks.

Read MoreSan Bernardino DA claims extremist's iPhone could contain a 'cyber pathogen'Apple wants to sell refurbished iPhones in IndiaApple unlocking San Bernardino iPhone could set a dangerous precedent: UNApple brings customer support service to TwitterGoogle, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech companies file court papers backing Apple

Relatives of five people who were killed, along with one survivor of the Dec. 2 attack, also filed a brief saying the FBI’s request is lawful and calling Apple’s concerns “speculative.” The relatives argued the phone might contain useful leads or even “explain the motive for this senseless tragedy.”

But the husband of another survivor submitted a letter on Apple’s behalf, saying he believes the order would set a bad precedent and adding that he doesn’t believe the phone has any useful information.

The case has pitted top officials of the Obama administration against one of the world’s most admired and profitable companies. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch this week suggested Apple was trying to rewrite the rules for what she characterized as routine steps taken by law enforcement investigators.

But some of Apple’s biggest competitors rose to its defense in a joint legal brief submitted Thursday.

The government’s position, if it prevails, will undermine the security of America’s most sensitive data,” states a filing from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Yahoo and ten other companies. “The law does not allow federal agents to conscript companies into defeating their own security safeguards and product designs.”

Several trade associations and a group of 17 smaller tech firms, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Airbnb and Reddit submitted their own filings on Apple’s behalf. Some echoed Apple’s arguments that the judge’s order oversteps current law and could lead to a wave of similar requests from both U.S. and foreign authorities.

Also Read: Why Apple is resisting a court order to help unlock a terrorist’s iPhone

“If the government prevails, then this case will be the first of many requiring companies to degrade the security and to undermine the trust in their products,” attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union warned in their own brief.

Security experts argued the government’s request is not as simple as it sounds. Any new software code is likely to have unexpected bugs that could be exploited by hackers, according to a brief from Stanford computer scientist Dan Boneh, cryptologist Bruce Schneier, independent researcher Jonathan Zdziarski and four others.

The Apple security-bypass tool will almost certainly see use on other iPhones, the researchers warned. “This spread increases the risk that the forensic software will escape Apple’s control either through theft, embezzlement, or order of another court, including a foreign government.”

Another filing from a group called ACT, which represents independent app makers, noted that Apple has said it would take “between six and ten” engineers to create the software. A similar demand “would be exceptionally onerous for the small companies that constitute the majority of ACT’s members and that are the heart of the mobile economy,” the group argued.

Telecommunications giant AT&T filed a brief arguing that current law doesn’t support the government’s demand. AT&T urged the magistrate to rescind her order and let Congress address the issue.

Several national law enforcement agencies, including the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, supported the Justice Department.

The groups are worried about the potential “cascading rippling effects … on the everyday investigation, prosecution and enforcement of the laws” that would come with a ruling in Apple’s favor, said attorney Joseph V. DeMarco. That includes a concern about the message that could be sent to citizens, who are expected to provide “reasonable assistance to law enforcement as they investigate crimes,” DeMarco said.

The San Bernardino County district attorney and several California police and sheriffs’ groups also joined the flood. The latter argued that Apple has the means to safeguard the software tool the court has ordered it to make, and that concerns about future disclosure “cannot outweigh the present compelling need of the public to be protected.”

Comments

  • Related News
  • San Bernardino DA claims extremists iPhone could contain a cyber pathogen.

    San Bernardino County District Attorney claims Farook might have used the phone to transmit a "lying-dormant cyber pathogen' into county data systems. A security researcher has claimed that San Bernardino shooter&#...

    Technology 2016-03-05 11:27:07

    Apple wants to sell refurbished iPhones in India.

    Apple plans to sell refurbished iPhones in India soon, seeks permission from the government. Apple plans to sell refurbished iPhones in India soon, seeks permission from the government

    Tech giant Apple has soug...

    Technology 2016-03-05 10:43:45

    Apple unlocking San Bernardino iPhone could set a dangerous precedent: UN.

    An FBI demand that Apple unlock an iPhone risks setting a dangerous precedent, the United Nations rights chief warned.. An FBI demand that Apple unlock an iPhone risks setting a dangerous precedent, the United Nati...

    Technology 2016-03-04 18:18:39

    Freedom 251: Ringing Bells bought Adcom handsets for Rs 3,600 each.

    Adcom said that it sold mobile handsets to Ringing Bells for Rs 3,600 a unit and was unaware of its plans to resell the device at Rs 251.. IT products firm Adcom said that it sold mobile handsets to Ringing Bells f...

    Technology 2016-03-04 17:51:33

    After WhatsApp, Instagram now blocks Telegram.

    Instagram has disallowed deep-linking profiles to third-party apps including Snapchat and Telegram.. Soon after WhatsApp blocked links to rival messaging app Telegram on Android smartphones, Instagram has also disa...

    Technology 2016-03-04 16:52:56

    Call drops: SC denies interim relief to telecom operators on HC order.

    SC denies interim relief to telecom companies against the Delhi HC order, will hear it again on March 10. SC has refused interim relief to telecom operators on call drop compensation issue

    The Supreme Court tod...

    Technology 2016-03-04 16:41:18

    Jays launches u-JAYS premium headphones at Rs 15,990 in India.

    The u-JAYS will be one of the most premium headphones available in India at sub-Rs 20k segment. u-JAYS are the most premium set of headphones from the Sweden-based company (Source: Headphone Zone)

    Jays, the Swe...

    Technology 2016-03-04 15:10:26

    Apple brings customer support service to Twitter.

    Apple, in order to extend support to its customers has launched a Twitter account by the name of @AppleSupport on Thursday.. Apple, in order to extend support to its customers has launched a Twitter account by the ...

    Technology 2016-03-04 14:28:33

    Hubble telescope spots a galaxy 13.4 billion light-years away from Earth.

    Astronomers discover a galaxy that formed just 400 million years after the Big Bang explosion, the most distant galaxy found to date. Astronomers discover a galaxy that formed just 400 million years after the Big B...

    Technology 2016-03-04 13:44:56

    Gionee Marathon M5 Lite #ExpressReview: You must really need that battery.

    Gionee Marathon M5 Lite will once again focus on delivering overall performance with battery being the USP. Here is our review.. Gionee Marathon M5 Lite is a lighter version of its predecessor that comes with a 4,0...

    Technology 2016-03-04 13:17:03

    Xiaomi eyes offline market pie, steps away from Flipkart.

    Xiaomi goes offline in a bid to scale its own e-commerce operations in India. Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra literally turned himself into demigod of Mi devices at the Redmi Note 3 launch (Source: Nandagopal Rajan)

    ...

    Technology 2016-03-04 12:45:34

    Amazon Echo Dot and Echo Tap launched with Alexa inside.

    Amazon Echo Tap and Echo Dot speakers are designed to amplify the role of its voice-controlled assistant, Alexa. Amazon Echo Dot is a tiny little speaker with Alexa virtual assistant that can be connected to other ...

    Technology 2016-03-04 11:32:44

    Amazon drops encryption feature in Fire tablet software.

    Amazon.com Inc has quietly dropped support for disk encryption on its Fire tablets, says the feature is less used by customers. Amazon drops encryption for its Fire tablets at a time when Apple is fighting over iPh...

    Technology 2016-03-04 10:30:33

    Mi India story is very much alive, says Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra.

    “Questions were being raised about us. Some asked if the Mi India story was over. We want to say that the Mi India story is very much alive. Mi India has not lost its magic,” said Barra.. Xiaomi Redmi N...

    Technology 2016-03-04 02:49:34

    Samsung T3 SSDs introduced for India, start at Rs 10,999 for 250 GB.

    Samsung SSD T3 supports proprietary Vertical NAND (V-NAND) and SSD Turbowrite technology. It comes with a capacity of up to 2TB. Samsung SSD T3 is the latest solid state drive from Korean electronics company that o...

    Technology 2016-03-03 18:50:20

    Xiaomis 2016 flagship, Mi 5 to launch in India within a month, says Hugo Barra.

    Xiaomi Mi 5 India launch could happen as early as next month. Xiaomi Mi 5 is set to launch in India as early as next month, could be the cheapest Snapdragon 820 device

    Xiaomi Global VP Hugo Barra on Thursday...

    Technology 2016-03-03 17:39:37

    Now take selfies using UltraProlink Hi-Q1 bluetooth speakers.

    UltraProlink has launched Hi-Q1 Selfie Bluetooth speaker, that enables users to click selfies while listening to music. . UltraProlink has launched Hi-Q1 Selfie Bluetooth speaker, that enables users to click selfie...

    Technology 2016-03-03 15:14:17

    Indian manufacturers face heat as Apple makes inroads into urban India: IDC.

    Samsung, Micromax and Lenovo-Motorola own the top three slots in the smartphone market comprising the top 30 cities of India, with Apple coming to the sixth slot in this urban list.. The top 30 cities make up appro...

    Technology 2016-03-03 13:31:27

    DishTV products, services now available on Amazon India.

    DishTV has announced that all of its products and services will now be available online on Amazon.in. . DishTV has announced that all of its products and services will now be available online on Amazon.in.

    Dish...

    Technology 2016-03-03 11:36:41

    DJI Phantom 4 with advanced sensing technology, 4K camera announced.

    DJI has launched its first consumer drone - Phantom 4 - that uses advanced computer vision and sensing technology. . DJI has launched its first consumer drone – Phantom 4 – that uses advanced computer v...

    Technology 2016-03-03 10:20:31