As the US government attempts to weaken encryption – in what could be the biggest privacy issue to ever hit the tech industry – Facebook and Twitter have finally spoken out.
They threw their support behind Apple late last night, in its fight against the FBI.
This support – which follows that of Google CEO Sundar Pichai – came more than a day after Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter to customers, rejecting a court order from law enforcement to be able to unlock the iPhone 5c of the San Bernadino attackers. You can read the full message to customers here.
The FBI asked the court to force Apple to create a new version of its operating system which would essentially do away with the privacy of the passcode lock on the phone.
In a statement, Facebook went one step further than Pichai’s words saying that the court order would set a ‘troubling precedent’, instead calling it a ‘chilling precedent’.
We condemn terrorism and have total solidarity with victims of terror. Those who seek to praise, promote, or plan terrorist acts have no place on our services. However, we will continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems. These demands would create a chilling precedent and obstruct companies’ efforts to secure their products.
Shortly after this, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted his support too:
— Jack (@jack) February 18, 2016
After Apple published its open letter, it seemed the biggest tech companies weren’t willing to say anything on the matter. But on Wednesday night, Google’s CEO finally broke the company’s silence and appeared to endorse Apple’s position.
1/5 Important post by @tim_cook. Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy
— sundarpichai (@sundarpichai) February 17, 2016
Apple’s comments also set off a fierce public debate about protecting our security, but in turn also being able to help law enforcement in cases like this.
However, it remains an open question how each company’s millions of customers feel about this debate.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how this all pans out as more of the tech industry speak up.