Companies and organizations have filed over a dozen amicus briefs supporting Apple in its showdown with the FBI over phone encryption. Filers include law professors, rights organizations, and some of the biggest companies in the world.
This outpouring of support is just the latest in a series of apparent victories for Apple in its fight to keep its devices secure.
It isn’t surprising that so many corporations are backing Apple here. If the courts rule that the government can compel the company to create security-compromising software, it could set a dangerous legal precedent that could also let investigators conscript other private organizations, as well. But Apple is also receiving massive support from legal professionals and political groups, which suggests that it’s effectively making its case to a much wider audience.
This case involves San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone, which authorities have thus far been unable to unlock as part of their investigation. The FBI issued a warrant under the All Writs Act asking Apple to create software that will allow it to
Parties that aren’t directly involved in court cases can file amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs that support one side. They’re basically a way of providing unsolicited testimony. Apple is keeping track of the briefs on its public relations site, and you can read the almost 400 pages of legal precedents and arguments, that’s where you can go.
If you don’t, however, here’s the current list of people and groups who have come out in Apple’s defense.
• 32 law professors from universities nationwide
• Access Now, a digital-rights organization
• digital-privacy supporter The Wickr Foundation
• software-company advocacy group ACT/The App Association
• local-renting service Airbnb
• group-chatting platform HipChat owner Atlassian
• Automattic, the parent company of WordPress
• web-hosting company CloudFlare
• online auction site eBay
• software-development suite GitHub
• crowdfunding platform Kickstarter
• corporate social-media site LinkedIn
• Mapbox, a mapping app
• blogging platform Medium
• Meetup, a social-gathering app
• link-sharing site Reddit
• person-to-person payment service Square
• Squarespace, a website creation service
• cloud communications company Twilio
• social-media platform Twitter
• instant-message app maker Wickr
• The American Civil Liberties Union, including individual ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, and ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties chapters
• AT&T, a telecommunications company which you may have heard of
• AVG Technologies, a security software company
• data-center service provider Data Foundry
• Golden Frog, a creator of privacy and security software
• lobbying group The Computer & Communications Industry Association
• The Internet Association, another lobbying group
• The Internet Infrastructure Coalition
• trade organization BSA|The Software Alliance
• The Consumer Technology Association
• The Information Technology Industry Council, yet another lobbying organization
• TechNet, an organization of tech-industry CEOs
• open-web supporter Center for Democracy & Technology
• digital-rights group The Electronic Frontier Foundation (along with 46 experts)
• hardware manufacturer Intel
• “iPhone security and applied cryptography experts including Dino Dai Zovi, Dan Boneh (Stanford), Charlie Miller, Dr. Hovav Shacham (UC San Diego), Bruce Schneier (Harvard), Dan Wallach (Rice), and Jonathan Zdziarski” (via Apple)
• research organization The Media Institute
• London-based privacy charity Privacy International
• Human Rights Watch
• nine consumer privacy organizations, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center
• cloud-storage platform Dropbox
• Mozilla, creator of the Firefox web browser
• Nest Labs
In addition to these legal filings, Apple has also received support from the United Nations and Salihin Kondoker, whose wife died in mass shooting in December. But it’s not all overwhelming support. Government lawyers in New York and Arizona believe Apple is hindering the FBI’s investigation, and six of the San Bernardino victims’ families filed their own amicus brief opposing Apple’s position.
The next hearing is scheduled for March 22. Until then, however, it looks like presiding judge Sheri Pym has a lot of reading to do.
UPDATE, 6:11 p.m.: Apple has added two more briefs to its page. We’ve updated the original list to include these participants.