You know it’s a big story when the likes of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Yahoo!, Cisco and Apple forget their differences and become brothers in arms.
In a rare showing of Silicon Valley unity, the tech giants have joined the campaign to fight a judge’s order to help unlock the iPhone of Syed Farook, the San Bernardino gunman.
It’s the US judicial system pitted against the technology sector – and both sides are aggressively defending their stance. The FBI wants to unblock the encrypted smart-phone – but the world’s biggest tech company is fighting tooth and nail to keep its secrets away from the prying eyes of the state.
Understandably, families of some of the victims of the San Bernardino shooting have sided with the government. But Apple’s reply is that if the FBI succeeds it’ll weaken the security of IOS, threaten customer security and could undermine the future growth of the company.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, warns the FBI was effectively asking the company to “turn back the clock to a less-secure time.”
An increasing number of commentators are backing Apple, arguing that if the state wins it could be detrimental to the future growth of the tech sector.
For example some fear the Chinese Government could use this to slow Apple’s growth in its biggest foreign market, arguing that as the devices aren’t secure consumers should buy locally made smart-phones – or even ask Apple to hand over its encryption secrets.
In a filing to the California court, Apple claims, “once developed for our government, it is only a matter of time before foreign governments demand the same tool”.
We find it hard not to sympathise with the view that Apple is being made a scapegoat for the absurdly lax US gun law. But we mustn’t forget the real victims – those affected by the shootings in San Bernardino. It was a horrendous act of domestic terrorism.
If US lawmakers truly want to make an impact on terrorism, their number one priority needs to be rectifying the country’s gun laws.
It’s wrong to pit a tech company, even one the size of Apple, against the judicial system while the key cause for these brutal acts – access to high powered guns – remains off the political radar.