Several major tech firms are planning to file a joint legal brief siding with Apple in its ongoing feud with the US government later today.
Google, Facebook and Microsoft, along with around 12 other internet companies, will team up on an amicus brief, Reuters reports. They’ll ask a federal judge to back Apple in its effort to have a court order that would compel it to help the FBI unlock an iPhone by building a special software thrown out, sources familiar with the plans said.
In the brief, the companies will lay out why they support the Cupertino-based company. Apple is resisting creating the software because it views it as a backdoor into the iPhone that could put hundreds of millions of users at risk. It’s also concerned about setting a precedent the government could use in future requests to Apple, as well as other companies.
The FBI is demanding the software be built so it can unlock the iPhone 5C used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. It’s seeking to get as much information off the phone as possible, though it is not sure what information is on the phone or if it would be of value to the investigation.
Competitors back Apple
Not mentioned in Reuters’ report is Twitter. A company spokesperson told techradar last week, when news of the amicus briefs first appeared, that it expected to be on one supporting Apple.
Microsoft Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith told members of a February 25 Congressional hearing that the company “wholeheartedly” supports the Mac maker and planned to file an amicus brief to that effect. At the time, it sounded like Microsoft would file on its own, though it wasn’t explicitly stated.
Soon after, the names of other tech firms began to pop up. Google was said to be planning its own filing, and Facebook and Twitter were also mentioned as preparing to join Apple’s side.
A source close to the matter told techradar: “The industry is aligned and working on a joint submission to the court.”
On Wednesday, several advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, filed briefs in support of Apple.