Google today has joined over twenty other tech companies and filed a joint amicus brief with the U.S. federal court, expressing support for Apple in its battle with the FBI over unlocking an iPhone used by one of the gunmen in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Google filed a joint brief with companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Snapchat. Another joint brief was also filed today by Twitter, Airbnb, and others. Google explained its motives in a blog post, curiously never mentioning Apple by name…
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Google argued in its blog post that Apple’s case with the FBI could set a “troubling legal precedent.” The FBI has been claiming that the All Writs Act of 1789 gives it the power to force Apple to unlock the iPhone in question, but Google argues that using that document as reasoning could set a bad precedent heading forward:
The key question is whether the government should be able to use the All Writs Act to force private companies to actively compromise the safety and security features that we all build into our products. These are the same security features that we all develop to keep people safe from identity thieves, hackers, and other criminals. A bad precedent here could let governments compel companies to hack into your phones, your computers, your software, and your networks.
Last month, both Hiroshi Lockheimer and Sundar Pichai expressed their (somewhat vague) support for Apple. Both focused on the idea that the case could set a troubling precedent for the future. Google’s blog post on the matter is also somewhat vague, but it makes it clear that the company supports Apple and does not believe that the All Writs Act gives the government the power to force Apple to unlock the device.
You can read Google’s full post on its Public Policy blog.