Online petitions universally support Apple encryption stance


Apple Security Jacket
It looks like the Internet is squarely on Apple's side. This time, anyway.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Online petitions can seem like screaming into a hole sometimes, but that isn’t stopping a crop of them from emerging in support of Apple’s stance on phone encryption.

In fact, our survey of signature-calls about Apple’s current refusal to provide the FBI a way to access the data on a locked phone belonging to one of the assailants in last year’s San Bernardino shooting turned up exactly none that demand the iPhone maker to give the government what it wants. And this is something, considering we also turned up one petition that called for a pair of tortoises to stop having to carry around iPads at the Aspen Art Museum and another that demanded that the United States legalize cockfighting.

Opinions are all over the place, is what we’re getting at, but people seem pretty sure that they don’t want Apple to unlock its phones. Here’s a quick look at some of the petitions going around.

The most successful one so far is at the White House’s own petition site, and it calls for the President to “Halt efforts that compel Apple and other device makers to create a ‘backdoor’ for the Government to access citizens’ data.”

This page has gathered almost 2,800 signatures since it launched yesterday, and it aims to get a total of 100,000 by March 18.

A few more, less popular drives have also shown up at, and they take a few different approaches. This month-old page targets the proposed legislation we’ve seen coming out of New York and California that would effectively render secure smartphones illegal.

This petition evokes Apple’s famous 1984 Macintosh commercial to make its argument (somehow) that you can’t just relax security to target criminals; it will affect everyone in turn. And it gives us an excuse to watch that crazy ad again.

Similarly, this pledge addresses President Obama directly and argues that “Backdoors open up our data to everyone – both the good guys and the bad guys. There’s no filter.” And it’s snapped up 337 signatures so far.

Paul L.’s call to action asks the American public to stand by Apple and includes the full text of CEO Tim Cook’s letter announcing the company’s decision to oppose the court order. Paul also expresses great national pride at the “American enterprise and ingenuity” that has created a phone that the combined powers of the FBI and NSA can’t crack.

Finally, we have this quick post on PetitionBuzz with a humble handful of signatures. “We would like to think the U.S. Government means well,” it reads. “But they are not fully aware of the consequences (it seems like) and by allowing this method to go into affect, your personal information and privacy is threatened substantially.” We like the benefit-of-the-doubt approach. It’s a little better than other petitions we’ve turned up, like the one that asks President Obama to deport Kanye West to Mars.

Nobody can guarantee that any of these drives will affect policy, but their numbers and universal call to protect Apple’s encryption standards suggest that people feel both strongly and similarly about this issue.


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