Tim Cook has found a host of allies in his stance against the FBI’s demand that Apple helps authorities access the encrypted data on San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone. A coalition of tech groups, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Edward Snowden have all lent their support to the Cupertino-based company’s CEO.
Advocacy group Reform Government Surveillance (RGS), which counts Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter amongst its members, said in a statement that while it’s important to help law enforcement in order to keep us all safe, “companies should not be required to build backdoors to the technologies that keep their users’ information secure.”
Sundar Pichai put aside Google’s rivalry with Apple by tweeting his support for Tim Cook, although he was very careful in his choice of words. Across a series of five posts, Pichai said that requiring companies to enable hacking of customers devices could set a troubling precedent.
Important post by @tim_cook. Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy. We know that law enforcement and intelligence agencies face significant challenges in protecting the public against crime and terrorism. We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders. But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent. Looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue
Another name fighting in Cook’s corner is WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, who echoed Pichai’s views. “We must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set. Today our freedom and our liberty is at stake,” he said in a Facebook post.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has also been tweeting his support for Apple, calling manufacturer access a vulnerability. Other groups, including the ACLU and EFF have also released statements supporting the iPhone maker’s stance.
Or more simply: "if anyone other than the user can get in, it's not secure." Manufacturer access is a vulnerability. https://t.co/Um5N3QiWiz— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 17, 2016
One person not on Cook’s side is presidential candidate Donald Trump. He was apparently shocked when he heard that Apple had not volunteered to help authorities access the locked iPhone. “Who do they think they are?” he said on Fox News.