Apple and the FBI are set to start its court battle for the San Bernardino case in a couple of weeks, March 22nd. In support for Apple’s position, over 40 companies, organizations and individuals will file amicus briefs later today to rally against the government order for Apple to compromise its own iPhone security measures. Facebook, Google, Dropbox, Microsoft, Snapchat and more will sign on to briefs in the case, according to sources.
Via The New York Times, support was not immediate. Company execs were initially worried about the consequences on the industry if Apple lost out to the FBI. Bloomberg reports Samsung supports the idea of encryption but will not commit to file an amicus brief for its smartphone rival, the Samsung statement said it remains undecided on its court position …
Amicus briefs are a way for parties not directly involved in a court case to add additional weight, context and information to an argument. The New York Times says the breadth of support Apple has received is unusual for court action, a significant sign of a unified Silicon Valley position … which can ultimately sway the final decision in Apple’s favour.
A number of privacy groups have already filed amicus briefs for Apple’s case, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Access Now and a United Nations free speech committee.
Whilst Samsung is not prepared to file an official court opposition just yet, it says it does, in general, support Apple’s position of privacy. Samsung said that a backdoor would undermine consumer trust, which is a top priority to maintain. Although Apple and Samsung are intense rivals in the smartphone industry, it is clear they have a common goal when it comes to the legal right to privacy.
“Ensuring trust in our products and services is our top priority. Our phones are embedded with encryption that protects privacy and content, and they do not have backdoors. When required to do so, and within the law, we work with law enforcement agencies. However, any requirement to create a backdoor could undermine consumers’ trust.”
In general, the support for Apple from other tech companies has been tremendous. Bruce Sewell gave the following statement of thanks. Apple’s court battle starts on March 22nd, the day after it is expected to unveil its latest round of products at a media event: the new 4-inch iPhone SE, a 9.7inch iPad Pro and more.
Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel, said in a statement, “We are humbled by the outpouring of support we’ve received from our customers, our colleagues in business, nonprofit organizations, the security community and many others.” He added, “The groups filing briefs with the court understand, as more and more people have come to realize, that this case is not about one phone — it is about the future and how we protect our safety and our privacy.”
Hear a summary of Apple’s arguments in this fifteen-minute interview with head lawyer Ted Olson. It presented these points at a congressional hearing earlier in the week and whilst Apple appeared to come out ahead, a victory over the FBI in the San Bernardino court case is by no means a certainty. Either way the judge eventually rules, the legal precedent created will have huge implications on the industry.