Internet giants get behind Apple in encryption row


Seventeen household names in the tech sector have filed a legal brief with a court in California today, backing Apple in its dispute over iPhone encryption, reports CityAM.

Apple has recently been embroiled in a dispute with US authorities after the technology company refused to unlock the iPhone of one of the attackers involved in the fatal San Bernardino shootings last December, where 14 people died and dozens more were injured.

The names on the amicus brief are; Airbnb, Atlassian, Automattic (which owns, CloudFlare, eBay, GitHub, Kickstarter, LinkedIn, Mapbox, Medium, Meetup, Reddit, Square, Squarespace, Twilio, Twitter and Wickr.

Between them, the companies have over one billion users.

Also today, six family members of the victims of the shootings filed an amicus brief supporting the US Department of Justice.

An amicus brief allows outside parties to air their comments on particularly complex cases.

In court documents seen by City A.M., the technology companies state that the US government’s demand that Apple help investigators gain access to the iPhone “threatens the core principles of privacy, security, and transparency that underlie the fabric of the Internet”.

The document also states that, given the current state of the digital world and looming threat of cyber crime, “ensuring that users’ data is handled in a safe, secure, and transparent manner that protects privacy is of utmost importance”.

Meanwhile, the court documents filed by the victims’ families stated that, while they could not know for certain what information was contained on the phone, they had reason to believe it held details of communications that could help law enforcement agencies mitigate future threats, offer new leads or provide a motive.

The document read that the families “are eager that no stone be left unturned in investigating this horrible act”.

EBay spokeswoman Penny Bruce said the company “believes in the internet’s core principles of privacy, security and transparency”.

“Government access to consumer information must be founded on a valid legal basis,” she added.

“No technology company should be required to take actions that undermine these important principles.”

A spokesperson for LinkedIn said the company “is opposed to the idea of forced backdoors of any kind”.

Julio Avalos, business chief and general counsel at GitHub, added: “People all over the world trust and expect the technology industry to protect their data and right to privacy. Forcing companies to break their own security measures would undermine that trust – setting a dangerous precedent that would have global and unpredictable effects.”