Microsoft Stands With Apple Against the FBI

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During the past week, the headlines have been filled with the ongoing battle between Apple and the FBI about if Apple should include ways to crack the security measures in their phones when the government asks them to do so. The debate has sparked conversation from those who are in favor of Apple helping out the FBI to those who believe that Apple should not build a backdoor into their products.

This week, Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith announced that he will be filing an amicus brief to show their support for Apple. In short, this is Microsoft saying that they agree, building a backdoor into software products is not in the best interest of the company, consumer or industry.

Below is the transcript of Smith’s testimony:

We at Microsoft support Apple and will be filing an amicus brief to support Apple’s position in the court case next week. 

And I believe that Apple is making an important point that, in fact, connects directly with the kinds of issues that are being considered by this hearing today. 

In the Apple case, the Justice Department has asked a magistrate to apply language in the All Writs Act that was passed by Congress and written in 1911.

The leading computing device of that era is right here in front of me.  It is an adding machine that went on sale in 1912. 

Put simply, we do not believe that courts should seek to resolve issues of 21st-century technology with law that was written in the era of the adding machine.  We need 21st-century laws that address 21st-century technology issues.  And we need these laws to be written by Congress. 

We, therefore, agree wholeheartedly with Apple that the right place to bring this discussion is here, to the House of Representatives and the Senate so the people who are elected by the people can make these decisions.

Smith made the announcement at a Congressional hearing today that focused on the laws pertaining to data that is transferred across borders. Microsoft has had its fair share of battles with the US government over emails stored in overseas data centers and the company has continuously stated that by creating a backdoor or handing over data stored overseas will fundamentally weaken their business.

Apple has said that they are willing to take this case to the Supreme Court if needed and with support from Microsoft and others, it will be a legal battle that will establish the baseline for how encryption will be handled when the government wants access to secured content. Do not expect this battle to be concluded anytime soon as these types of court cases can takes years to be fully addressed.