Earlier in the week, we reported how Tim Cook and Apple released a statement showcasing the reasons why they were rejecting the FBI’s request to build software to help them unlock iPhones in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings which happened last December.
While some of the support has been mooted both Google and Facebook have been vocal in their support of Apple in the case evoking something of a ‘Spirit of Snowden’ and a reminder that, not really so long ago trust was broken between the tech industry and the general population over the NSA eavesdropping scandal.
On Friday, the government again went to the courts to try and force Apple’s hand in the situation so the industry support is welcome and an isolated event such as this could well become something much larger.
A pivotal point in Cook’s Leadership
Tim Cook can never be Steve Jobs but this case will surely be a defining moment in his tenure at the helm of the company and so it must have been welcome relief when he received the better late than never backing of his tech peers. The phrase ‘all for one, and one for all’ springs to mind here because, while this particular case, affects Apple alone the legislation that it could potentially create would have farreaching permeations for the tech industry as a whole.
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai was the first ‘heavy hitter’ to come forward with support of Cook and Apple’s stance in the situation saying that: “forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy” while Facebook said that it could set a “chilling precedent.” Twitter came forward with perhaps the staunchest defence of Cook himself with CEO Jack Dorset tweeting that: “”We stand with @tim_cook and Apple (and thank him for his leadership)!”
The FBI, clearly, doesn’t agree and released a statement themselves saying that: “Apple’s current refusal to comply with the court’s order, despite the technical feasibility of doing so, instead appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy.”
Clearly this difference of opinion could threaten to become something bigger. Various news outlets have carried out opinion polls on who is right and wrong in this situation such as USA today with a poll of a little over 1,000 people narrowly siding with the FBI on the matter with 51% of the vote.
Apple is due back in court on March 22 when the case will again be discussed. The affair then threatens to drag on and on with Apple having no shortage of resource to challenge the government on this issue.
It must be noted too that Apple has said that it has recommended ‘four different ways’ to the FBI that could potentially help to recover the information on the locked iPhone. These recommendations have seemingly been ignored (although we will perhaps never know) and the case will continue to divide opinion, especially as it concerns a highly emotive situation such as the San Bernardino shootings.
This is one, as they say, that is set to continue.