A day after Apple testified before the House Judiciary Committee, a handful of privacy groups have officially filed that they support the company in its fight against the FBI. While the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has previsouly expressed its support for Apple, it today filed an amicus brief with the court, officially acknowledging its stance. Furthermore, three other privacy groups, Access Now, the Wickr Foundation, and a United Nations free speech group have also filed briefs with the court echoing the ACLU’s sentiments.
Reuters reports that the ACLU argued in its filing that what the FBI is requesting would violate the privacy and security of Americans as it would require for a private American company (Apple) to act as an agent for investigations.
“Law enforcement may not commandeer innocent third parties into becoming its undercover agents, its spies, or its hackers,” the filing with the court read.
Additionally, the Wickr Foundation and Access Now said in their joint filing that encryption can be the difference between “life and death” for users in some countries. The organizations imply that, should Apple be forced to comply with the FBI’s request and create a tool to access data on the locked iPhone 5c, people who rely on strong security would be placed in danger:
“In some countries reliable security tools such as encryption can be the difference between life and death,” their brief says. “The relief sought by the government endangers people globally who depend on robust digital security for their physical safety and wellbeing.”
Finally, BuzzFeed reports that the United Nations freedom of expression representative, David Kaye, has also filed a court brief expressing support for Apple. Kaye is responsible for monitoring free speech issues around the world and says that privacy when it comes to technology is crucial to accessing new ideas and information:
“Encryption and anonymity, separately or together, create a zone of privacy to protect opinion and belief. Where States impose unlawful censorship through filtering and other technologies, the use of encryption and anonymity may empower individuals to circumvent barriers and access information and ideas without the intrusion of authorities.”
In its original public statement last month, the ACLU argued that the FBI’s request was “unprecedented, unwise, and unlawful,” while noting that Apple should be praised for its efforts to stand up for the rights of its users.
In addition to organizations like the ACLU, various tech companies are also expected to file friend of the court briefs in support of Apple. Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter are among the companies expected to do so.
Apple yesterday testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding its refusal to unlock an iPhone 5c used by one of the gunmen in the fatal San Bernardino attacks last December. The full testimony is available to view here.
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