This week a number of high-profile tech companies including Microsoft, Google and Facebook have moved to show their real and on-going support for Apple in their case against the US Federal Government and the FBI for creating a way to hack the iPhone.
On Thursday 15 large tech companies filed what is known as an amicus brief which essentially shows their support for Apple for the courts.
Apple is due in a Federal court later this month to argue its case and such a weighty show of support is a clear statement from Apple’s tech peers that they will not stand by in the face of legislation they believe is wrong. The filing too is a reminder to the US Government not so much of the power that tech companies have but the potential influence and important they have in both the US economy and its social structure.
The business of business is business
The wording of the filing has been to pull at the business heartstrings of American lawmakers. The US is, above all, a country of business and the founding principles of the country are to allow businesses to move freely and do what they do best.
The filing says that: “The government is not just asking companies to do what they do in the normal course of business; the government is asking companies to change how they do business.” The focus on the business activities rather than the particular technology focus is important. The tech industry is seen as different from other industries like commerce, oil, construction etc. in that they operate on a more social-moral scale than other industry types. This puts them at the forefront of society and, as such, are real potential influencers in the way Americans live their lives. By focusing on ‘business’ alone they take the tech out of it and point out that such meddling by government would not happen in other industries.
While the tech industry as well as other bodies such as the American Civil Liberties Union has backed Apple the support for the company is not so clear cut. In a number of polls taken since the situation escalated there has been clear support for the FBI in the situation.
The San Bernardino attacks are still fresh in the public’s memory and Apple, by some quarters, is seen to be preventing the course of justice by their stance. In an amicus brief put forth in support of the FBI’s case members of the San Bernardino victims’ families accused Apple of ‘grandstanding’ and pointed to the potential evidence that may be on the phone that may aid the FBI to help prevent another shooting.
Emotions then are running raw on both sides of the argument and it is unclear what the outcome will be. One thing that is certain however is that the case has divided opinion in an extreme way and there will be a fallout of some kind no matter what the final ruling is.