Tech Giants to File Joint Amicus Briefs on Behalf of Apple


Tech giants are gathering in Apple’s corner over the Silicon Valley giant’s battle with the federal government.

Google, Facebook and Twitter are part of a coalition that will file unsolicited amicus briefs on behalf of Apple. Microsoft declined to comment on whether it was part of a group or would file separately, but Microsoft president Brad Smith told Capitol Hill lawmakers Thursday that his company would file an amicus brief. Smith said Microsoft “wholeheartedly supports Apple” in its tug of war with the FBI, which wants Apple to create a back-door entrance to the iPhone of one of the shooters in the San Bernardino massacre.

The joint amicus brief or multiple briefs are expected to be filed next week, according to representatives from the other three companies. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the amicus brief news, as did representatives from Google and Facebook who who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has argued that writing code for such a program would jeopardize the security of all its customers. Creating encryption-breaking code “is bad for America,” Cook told ABC News anchor David Muir Wednesday, adding that such code would be the “software equivalent of cancer.”

Apple filed its motion to vacate on Thursday. The Cupertino, Calif., iPhone maker is arguing that the government is employing too broad an interpretation of the All Writs Act, which can compel companies to turn over consumer information to law enforcement, and asking it to write code that violates its own corporate views on privacy and security.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is among those planning to file an amicus brief, which refers to an unsolicited “friend of the court” opinion.

“The U.S. government wants us to trust that it won’t misuse this power,” reads a statement on the EFF’s website. “But we can all imagine the myriad ways this new authority could be abused. Even if you trust the U.S. government, once this master key is created, governments around the world will surely demand that Apple undermine the security of their citizens as well.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Marco della Cava and Jessica Guynn