Tim Cook WWDC 2015

A new We the People petition has been created urging the White House to “halt efforts that compel Apple and other device makers to create a “backdoor” for the Government to access citizens data” (via MacReports). 

The petition comes as Apple CEO Tim Cook this week penned an open letter detailing why the company is resisting a demand from the FBI to unlock a device belonging to a suspect in the high profile San Bernardino shooter case.

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of its customers…The FBI, is demanding that Apple build a “backdoor” to bypass digital locks protecting consumer information on Apple’s popular iPhones…We the undersigned, oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.

The controversy and Cook’s letter followed complaints from the FBI that it couldn’t crack Apple’s encryption on the iPhone and Apple’s refusal to assist the courts and agency in doing so.

In his open letter, Cook defended Apple’s long running stance of not providing access to personal data to government under any circumstances and said that complying with the FBI’s request would be “‘an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.” Cook continued:

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

Since Cook’s letter, several organizations have voiced support for Apple including statements issued by The Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Amnesty International.

And while it certainly would be possible for Apple to bypass the iPhone’s security — either with a master key of sorts like the FBI wants or through other methods — our own poll shows that an overwhelming amount of you — around 86% of 17,000 and counting votes — support Apple and do not support any type of method of government access to data on iOS.

But so far, at the time of publishing, the We the People petition only has under 100 signatures. Another 99,900 to go before March 18th in order to get the White House’s attention and the required response. You can sign it here.

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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.