Google and Microsoft have come out in defence of Apple in response to demands from the US government that it unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the gunmen in the San Bernadino terrorist attack.
Apple has said that it will not unlock the phone in this way as it creates a dangerous precedent and undermines the security of all its devices and in turn its billion-strong user base.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai joined the debate late on Wednesday, throwing his weight behind Apple.
1/5 Important post by @tim_cook. Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy— sundarpichai (@sundarpichai) February 17, 2016
2/5 We know that law enforcement and intelligence agencies face significant challenges in protecting the public against crime and terrorism— sundarpichai (@sundarpichai) February 17, 2016
Microsoft also gave its support to Apple, although less directly. CEO Satya Nadella retweeted a post by Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, with a link to the firm's position via a statement from the Reform Government Surveillance (RGS) group.
"RGS companies believe it is extremely important to deter terrorists and criminals and to help law enforcement by processing legal orders for information in order to keep us all safe," said the group in a statement.
"But technology companies should not be required to build in backdoors to the technologies that keep their users' information secure. RGS companies remain committed to providing law enforcement with the help it needs while protecting the security of their customers and their customers' information."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has also backed Apple, claiming that the government's demands are excessive.
"For the first time, the government is requesting Apple to write brand new code that eliminates key features of iPhone security that protect us all. Essentially, the government is asking Apple to create a master key so that it can open a single phone," the EFF said in a statement.
"And once that master key is created, we're certain that our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security."
Not all are on Apple's side, though. Donald Trump offered his views on television and went crackers, according to a report on Politico.
"Who do [Apple] think they are? They have to open it up. I agree 100 percent with the courts. I think security, overall, we have to open it up and we have to use our heads. We have to use common sense," he raged.
There has been frothing and finger pointing too. FBI chief James Comey is in the unfortunate position of backing Trump, after he told The Guardian that Apple is getting in the way of world peace and safety.
"In Silicon Valley, saying you think Apple should help the FBI get into terrorists' phones is grounds to get kicked out of your Uber. And, I'll be honest, it's an alarming thing to find myself agreeing with Donald Trump on anything," he said.
"Is it really so absurd to ask Apple to break into the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5C? In this exceptional case of large-scale domestic terrorism, this is a phone built before Apple sealed off its ‘backdoor', so how much of a precedent can it set?
"And beyond the specifics of today, if our lives are lived through our phones now how can law enforcement do its job if it can't get into them?"
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