Zuckerberg Backs Apple in Its Battle With the FBI Over iPhone Privacy
The fight between Apple and the FBI over the San Bernardino iPhone is growing more contentious by the day. But the tech giant is not alone in its battle. Today Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg threw in his support for Apple at the Mobile World Congress in Spain.
“We’re sympathetic with Apple on this one. We believe in encryption,” he said during an interview on stage with WIRED senior writer Jessi Hempel. Although he noted that Facebook is happy to work with the government in fighting terrorism, he said that undermining the security of users is not the way to do that.
“We have a pretty big responsibility running this big network and community to help prevent terrorism and different kinds of attacks … if there is any content that’s promoting terrorism or sympathizing with ISIS … we’ll take that off the service … and if we have opportunities to basically work with government and folks to make sure there aren’t terrorist attacks then we’re obviously going to take those opportunities and we feel a pretty strong responsibility to help make sure that society is safe,” he said.
Zuckerberg is not the only tech titan to stand with Apple. Last Wednesday Google CEO Sundar Pichai also sided with his competitor in a series of tweets after Apple CEO Tim Cook published a blog post explaining why his company was fighting the government’s request.
“We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders,” Pichai tweeted. “But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent.”
Pichai was referencing the specific court order issued last Tuesday by a magistrate judge. The judge didn’t order Apple to unlock the phone—which the company is unable to do—but rather to write a special software tool, a crippled version of its operating system that would eliminate specific security protections the company built into its phone software to protect customer data.
On that note, Zuckerberg sided with opponents of the court’s order who say this is no different than the controversial backdoor the FBI has been trying to force Apple and other companies to build into their software—except in this case, it’s an after-market backdoor to be used selectively on phones the government is investigating.
“I don’t think requiring backdoors into encryption is either going to be an effective way to increase security or is really the right thing to do for the direction the world is going in. So, yeah, we’re pretty sympathetic with Tim and Apple on this one,” Zuckerberg said today.
The magistrate gave Apple five business days to formally respond to her order, but before Apple could do so, the government filed a second surprise motion on Friday asking the court to not wait the five days but instead to compel Apple to comply with the order now.
In an email sent to Apple employees this morning, Cook wrote that the case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation.
“At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties,” he wrote. “Apple is a uniquely American company. It does not feel right to be on the opposite side of the government in a case centering on the freedoms and liberties that government is meant to protect.”
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