Privacy activists plan rallies across U.S. to support Apple in battle against U.S. government on February 23rd

“When about two dozen privacy advocates stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the downtown San Francisco Apple store on Wednesday, it may have been the first time a demonstration was held in support of the tech company,” Julia Carrie Wong repots for The Guardian. “‘It’s not really a protest,’ said Cindy Cohn, the executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). ‘We’re here in support of Apple.'”

“The rally was organized by Fight for the Future, a nonprofit organization that campaigns for internet privacy rights, in response to Apple’s resistance to a federal magistrate ordering the company to help the FBI unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters,” Wong reports. “During the brief demonstration on a very wet San Francisco evening, attendees held out cellphones with stickers reading: ‘I do not consent to the search of this device,’ while Cohn took the microphone. ‘We’re here to say to Apple: ‘We’re going to have your back all the way,” she said.”

Wong reports, “Fight for the Future is planning to hold similar events at Apple stores across the country on 23 February.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: On Tuesday, February 23, gather to support Apple Inc. in its battle against U.S. federal government overreach at 5:30pm local time at the most central Apple store in your area.

More info, and growing list of Apple Retail Store locations via Fight for the Future here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1645036165762086/

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

54 Comments

  1. Apple needs to rethink this position. The Courts will balance the right to the privacy of the data on the phone with the duty of the Government to keep the public safe from acts of terror.

    The right to privacy pales in comparison to the duty to keep us all safe from great bodily harm.

    Our phones can easily be likened to fancy file cabinets holding lots of different kinds of files. Just as one can put a fancy lock on a file cabinet, so also can one encrypt the files on our phones.

    Just as a Court can issue a subpoena for the files in a filing cabinet, so also can they do it for the contents of a phone.

    The only positive effect of Apple’s position will be Court rulings that will make this more clear.

    IMHO, Apple is better off agreeing to hack this one phone – making it clear that it is only doing it for one phone – and most importantly – pursuant to a Court order

    Our lives are WAY more important than files on our phones.

    Of course the Government has the burden of convincing the Judge that the information on the dead Terrorists phone might aid them in their fight to keep us all safe. That is a burden that is easily met in this case.

    If the phones data might result in revealing another such terrorist – then that terrorist can be stopped before she causes more harm.

    There is nothing sacred in files on a phone. They are not privileged. Although we have a right to privacy, that right is subject to limitations.

    Just because we label it a “right” to privacy doesn’t mean it’s an absolute right. One still goes through the analysis – balancing the competing interests – above.

    1. So letting one phone hacked will end this?! Now, there will be precedence. How do we know if the government officials will stop here?

      Also, the warrant does not mean Apple has to comply with hacking a phone; it means the owner has to surrender the phone or personally allow a search on the phone. Again, the OWNER, not the company that sold the item.

      You are introducing a slippery-slope here.

      I do agree with security, but this can lead to a bad situation in the long run. There has to be better alternatives.

      1. CALB,
        I tried to set out the law and the reasons for it.

        The rules (precedents) are already in place. The Judges know what the Government must prove before the Court will issue such an order.

        By the analogy to a filing cabinet — here the lock on the cabinet is Apples. Apple needs to comply in order to keep us all (the public) safe.

        This goal of keeping us safe is far more important than the privacy of our data.

        It’s a very interesting set of fact. This case is not a problem for this Judge. The phone belonged to a terrorist that actually planned to kill people – and then carried out the plan.

        These Court Orders are only issued in case by case situations. The Government has a heavy burden in every case – thereby safeguarding the right to privacy.

        1. A better analogy, Steve, might be to a company which makes wall safes. The government might rule that a company needs to make safes with a secret method they can use to open it, when requested/required by a court order. To protect us all from terrorists.

          But the safe company would be quite well supported if it argued that producing ‘flawed’ security will decrease its appeal to customers, and will simply encourage other safe companies (perhaps in other countries) to produce safes without that sort of backdoor.

        2. I can see the reasoning because the owner was a terrorist and yes, information on his phone can save lives and limit future dangers, but I do believe this could lead to a waterfall of danger by making other similar companies and Apple to do this in the future for the government by the judicial and legislative branches slowly giving more power.

          I am not sure but it doesn’t make sense if the burden is extremely great. I know the burden for criminal courts are “beyond a reasonable doubt” which can easily be persuaded by claiming he’s a terrorist, but I don’t believe in Apple to receiving and comply with a warrant would be a high burden as to say a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. Hacking a phone doesn’t fall under the government’s burden of proving their interest outweighs the strict scrutiny standard for fundamental rights.

          1. What fundamental right is at risk here? Apples want to have a business model is not a Fundamental right. One’s interest in the privacy of ones data on our phones is also NOT a fundamental right.

            For illustrative purposes – Freedom of Speech IS a Fundamental right – but even Freedom of Speech is not absolute. Perhaps the most famous example of this is that the courts will not allow someone to falsely “cry FIRE in a crowded theater.” The reason – it’s dangerous and could cause great harm is the same sort of reasoning that we see the Judge use here in the Terrorist’s phone matter.

            The Judge is balancing interests here. Apple’s interest v. the public harm. Apple falls on the wrong side of that balancing act.

          2. Apparently the Court relied upon a long used law called The”All Writs Act” which is hundreds of years old and time tested. It basically provides that a Court can require that people do things to comply with a Court Order.

            Apple will Appeal from the order – so they say.

    2. No, no, no, and no.
      I’ll pick just one.
      “IMHO, Apple is better off agreeing to hack this one phone – making it clear that it is only doing it for one phone – and most importantly – pursuant to a Court order”

      You are completely missing the bigger picture. That one instance of giving way creates a precedent and by which means the court will have free rein to impose evermore freedom busting legislation on Apple plus all the other companies without the balls to cross the line to Apple’s side.
      Time for folk to wise up, take off the blinkers and stop giving ‘know’ shite, self interested, technically illiterate, blowhard politicians, judges and paranoid security services….an easy ride.
      I can barely believe the outbreak of stupid.

      1. The big picture are the lives of the public, not your right to the files in your phone.

        If you’re (as here) a proven dead terrorist who killed a bunch of people then the Government wants to know what’s on your phone. Only a moron will argue that the Government shouldn’t be able to find out in order to keep us all safe.

        The Judges never have free reign.

        You are the paranoid one – because you don’t understand the competing privacy and security concerns – and you don’t understand the Judges responsibility on how to apply the law.

        Once you do understand, then you will realize that this particular fight is a loser.

          1. Thanks so much for labeling me a pedantic moron. How nice of you.

            I have practiced law for 34 years, and I taught law students for 17 years – now I teach lawyers.

            i know something about this stuff and I don’t need to be insulted for sharing my knowledge.

    3. With due respect, you, like the federal judge, are missing the point. The Feds themselves are not missing the point, which is precisely why they are putting it in the form of “just one phone.” The phrase “it’s just for one phone” makes no sense. Even Apple can’t do that. Whatever method they might devise to make it easier for the Feds to hack the phone in question has to be for ALL iPhones, at least of that model & iOS. And that hits at the security of all of us.
      That’s what you have to get your mind around; that’s difficult because your basic reasoning sounds OK. It’s really a sleight of hand trick performed on your mind. But once or if you understand that, then you will understand that Apple has no choice but not to comply.
      And that’s not even considering many other aspects, including, incidentally, that it would cripple Apple’s business model.
      Imagine Apple built a big stone wall, a baddy is hiding behind, and the Feds ask Apple to build a hole in the wall so they can get the baddy. But Apple says, if I build a hole in the wall there, the whole wall will fall down. The question then becomes: is that a “reasonable” request?

      1. There is no sleight of hand. There are strict rules in place to protect the right of privacy.

        But here – in this case before us – the Government has met its burden. The terrorist’s phones contents need to be inspected in order to possibly save lives.

        End of story.

        Peoples lives matter more than the privacy of the data. That’s the decision that has to be made.

        Apples business model will be completely undisturbed by this decision.

          1. Everyone breaks the rules – including Apple sometimes, but we are not faced with that issue right now.

            This is about a terrorist’s phone and a Judge realizing that the data on that single phone could save lives.

            What outweighs saving lives? If you think that your data’s privacy outweighs saving lives then we will NEVER agree. If that’s your belief then I assert that your belief is unreasonable, and must not stand.

            1. Removing guns from the streets will also save lives, but it would also jeopardize the gun manufacturers business model of selling deadly devices, which doesn’t seem to matter to anyone. So, this isn’t about saving some lives, it’s about gaining more invasive technology to monitor the populace.

              Has no one read “1984”? Yes, protecting the privacy rights of citizens IS more important than forcing technology companies to write custom software that the government will then use to break into other citizens phones, and that will also then make its way into the criminal community to steal other citizen’s private data for financial gain.

              The risk of terrorist attacks is real, but no more than some crazy citizens wielding assault rifles in theaters and schools, and that hasn’t seemed to motivate anyone to reduce that risk. This is brazen government overreach and I applaud Apple standing up for us.

            2. Steve, you are correct that you and I will never agree. You’re reasoning has not convinced me otherwise that the ends justify the means. And, your acquiescence to be subjugated by the government without even fighting leads me to believe that you are really not a lawyer. Being that I am not one, but, if I were, I would fight tooth and nail to prevent the government from getting any information without due process. To me, the AWA is a cop out. It’s like forcing an individual to forego their 5th amendment rights. Are you willing to do that?

            3. Subjugated by the government?

              Not. I just agree with the judge and disagree with the stance that Apple is taking in this case.

              I regularly fight government agencies here in California – but I choose my battles – and this isn’t one of them.

              I wish I was more persuasive.
              Later
              Steve

        1. You are looking in the wrong direction: that’s how sleight of hand works.

          In any case, your “people’s lives matter” argument works both ways. Yes, maybe we should ALL give up our privacy to save ONE life, possibly, maybe, perhaps, there’s a chance, a slim chance, but…
          Then again, maybe we shouldn’t.
          Or,
          We will save ONE life, at the cost of making life miserable for NINETY-NINE others until they die.
          Is it worth it? Well, yes & no, depending.
          Reductio ad absurdum
          In most cases, of course, you and your reasoning would be applicable. This is the case where it isn’t, which makes it so important and the one to take a stand on.

          1. You are not being asked to give up your rights. The Judge’s Order is limited in scope – as well it should be.

            Nowhere has the judge ordered Apple to give the keys to the Government – the Order is for them to get the data off the phone.

            1. Wrong, the custom software it is ordering Apple to write will not disappear after the iPhone is hacked. It will remain in the government’s hands forever, and then stolen from the government to be used by the criminal class. Apple isn’t being ordered to hand over something it possesses. It’s being ordered to create something the government can use to spy on anyone with an iPhone. That will substantially reduce the value of all iPhones, and will accomplish nothing. Criminals and terrorists will simply use a non-Apple product to conduct their business.

              This is an assault on Apple’s business model of providing secure phones for personal use, a product that you can carry around and use without fear of your bank accounts being drained if its lost. That all goes away if this indirect backdoor attack isn’t thwarted in its crib. This isn’t a one off, it’s the whole privacy ballgame, and must be stopped.

            2. Where are you guys coming up with this stuff?

              The Judge ordered Apple to use “reasonable efforts” to aid the Government. That’s all.

              Make something else up, why don’t you?

            3. First, agree that you shouldn’t be named called for your argument. That’s not right.

              On a different note, as an professor and attorney, defining “reasonable efforts” is extremely grey, and not black and white. That would be the situation I would fear and go against the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

            4. There might well be a fight over “reasonable efforts.” But right now Apple doesn’t even want to do that. They are appealing the Judge’s ruling –

              In my mind this puts them on the side of the terrorist whose data might save lives. It puts them squarely in the Corporate mindset – Profits over people. I reject this. Screw their Business plan – the act of hacking this phone will certainly not jeopardize their business plan.

              There are few absolute rules in life – and an absolute rule that iPhone security must be sacrosanct instead of being used to hopefully save lives is outrageous.

            5. Steve, Apple has aided the FBI with reasonable efforts, even by your own definition. And, I believe this is the point you are missing. Apple has done their part, now the government wants more. That’s why this is such a slippery-slope. Where does it end? And, where do you draw the line? As several posters here commented ad nauseam, the government does not know when to stop.

            6. I agree. The Government will never stop. That’s why we have an adversary system – with Judges acting as the gatekeeper.

              Here it’s a Court Order that Apple is appealing – not a Government Order. There was a hearing and in this case the Government met its burden.

              That a very important distinction.

        2. Save lives Trumps everything, eh? So the more lives saved, the more the ends justifies the means?

          Then get back to us when the gun lobby has been brought under control. And don’t bother bringing up the whole “Constitutional right” rebuttal, after all this is about saving lives! And domestic non-terrorist gun violence killed literally 1000x more Americans last year than terrorists.

          And I don’t care if you actually happen to support gun legislation; until direct gun deaths drop by 90%, indirect deaths through encrypted phones is a red herring.

          1. You have responded with a political argument that is irrelevant to these facts

            BUT! If this Terrorist’s iPhone data reveals that Smith & Wesson have information in their files that will have an impact on the investigation into these terrorists, then they too might well be ordered to give up their files. Their argument that their data must be secure will fail, just as Apple’s will.

    4. The Courts were of no use when the NSA set up a secret, illegal telecommunications surveillance program to monitor cell phone use, the rogue program that later was exposed by Edward Snowden. The NSA did this after the cell phone industry rejected another proposed “Clipper Chip” surveillance technology from the mid-1990’s.

      Government cannot be trusted with private cell phone data any more than hackers or big business — except of course for Apple — which is fighting to protect consumer privacy because it is a core principle in the company’s business model.

      1. While Apple’s business model is important – it isn’t as important as the chance to save lives. I hope that you all understand that THAT is the compelling reason behind the Court’s Order.

        This fact scenario is perfect for the Government. It’s just one phone – a terrorist’s – and a Court could protect Apples efforts if need be.

        The Judge had no problem issuing this Order. I would also choose saving lives over corporate profits any day of the week.

        The NSA had the Communication Industry support – like AT&T. Meanwhile, our system of laws shut down – we hope – much of the spying once it was exposed. We restored the oversight to the Judiciary where it belongs – just as in this case.

  2. I support Apple all the way on this issue and I plan to write to my local congressman and senators to urge them to publicly support Apple.

    It’s great that these privacy advocacy groups are out in support of Apple. They are going to need all the moral support they can get because some big guns are going to be pointed Apple’s way. This is not for the feint of heart and Apple has earned my respect in a whole new way.

    To have any chance of winning this fight Apple needs to stay focused on the core concern, which is security. If they use privacy rights as their main argument they will lose – the forth amendment is pretty clear on that. Taken in isolation, getting access to texts and emails on that particular phone is not an unreasonable request.

    Apple’s key argument needs to be about the implications of building in backdoors into mobile phones. 1) If the good guys can do it, so can the bad guys. 2) If the US Government can do it, there’s no argument to stop China, Russian, and anyone else from doing it. 3) If the US Government has backdoor access to Aplle’s iPhone, or any other US tech company’s products, other nations will be much less inclined to buy and use US technology, leading to a severe loss of US competitiveness in a crucial sector of the economy that is key to the overall nation’s national security.

    The FBI is not trying to be the bad guys. They just want to find out if theses assholes (terrorists) we assisted by anyone they don’t already know about. But the FBI do not understand the implications of what they are asking for. Apple needs to make those implications clear to the high court as well as the court of public opinion. Their argument should not be that this is an unreasonable search and seizure of some asshole’s iPhone. But that it is an unreasonable search and seizure because of what it would do to our overall tech sector and because it weakens security an all communications devices.

    1. As I mentioned in another comment, I credit the Feds with more intelligence than you: they know exactly what they are requesting, and they have requested it in such a way that they hope the judge will not understand. If the judge did understand, then it would be immediately obvious that it is not a “reasonable” request, & so would violate the 4th amendment.
      With everything else you write, I am in agreement.

      1. The Judge crafted an Oder that was specific to one iPhone. The Judge did not order Apple to build a back door that can be used by anyone.

        This Judge ordered Apple to open the lock on this single filing cabinet.

        The reason for the Order is to save lives. This trumps any privacy rights of the files in that phone.

        1. Im trying to understand your reasoning…let me put it this way…would you be ok with the judge ordering a back to door to your house, specifically, your house only, and no other house but your house? Remember, “house” here is just a noun. Insert any noun you want. Do you still agree with the judges ruling?

          1. Why do you think this Judge is ordering Apple to install a “back door?”

            The Judge wants the data on the iPhone of a Terrorist that killed people … which data may lead the Government to discover other such Terrorists.

            Why does the Judge make this Order? Because saving the lives of the public is more important than the right of privacy.

            Now – to address you question about my – or anyone’s – house. The answer is that a Judge can craft an Order to allow the Government to come in my back door, side door, front door, or basement door.

            BUT – the government must carry its burden of proof – case by case.

            Here the Judge believes that the Order to open the phone is in the best interest of the Public.

            The Judge is correct.

            This is a specific Court Order that was specially tailored to apply to only one phone.

            Lives are more important than data.

            Apple is easily able to accomplish this. They built the “lock” knowing full well that the phone holds files. Now they need to back off and help the Judge save lives.

            1. Perhaps the judge is correct that there is a public interest in knowing the data that is on the phone but he certainly doesn’t understand the technical issue around it.

              First of all, Apple can’t simply unlock the phone. There is no way to do that. It cannot simply get at the data either. There are 3.4×10(38th power) combinations to figure out what the key is to unlock the phone.

              The only thing Apple can do is to create version of the phone’s operating system that can be loaded onto the phone that disables the auto delete feature that is currently enabled on the phone.

              After that, the FBI must use brute force attempts to decrypt the phone. Something which could take thousands to billions of years at which point, the data is moot. Or it might take a few weeks if they are extremely lucky.

              Third, once that new OS is created, it becomes a key that other hackers and can use to break into all our devices putting the entire public at risk.

              In my mind, the need for millions of people to be secure all over the world is too high a bar to jump over for a single phone.

            2. 14 people are dead in San Bernardino alone. Our phones security just simply can’t compare to the urgency here.

              Apple doesn’t say it can’t accomplish hacking the phone. The Judge ordered them to simply provide reasonable security assistance.

              They don’t even want to do that. This puts profits over people and I reject it.

              Lives matter more than data. This case is not about millions of people’s data. Just a dead terrorist’s phone. That’s what the gravamen of the Court Order is all about.

            3. Steve, you’re missing the point. What you are telling me is that you have never heard of the words “reverse engineering.” If Apple were to acquiesce to the governments’ request, all privacy would be lost. Once, the proverbial cat is out of the bag, you can never bet it back. Once the FBI receives the unlocked phone, they can reverse engineer what Apple has done to get the key…hence the back door.

              As to crafting an order and burden of proof, the government has not, I repeat, has not carried that burden of proof in the eyes of the many posting here at MDN, as well as, mine.

              As to the order specifying to only one phone, you failed to realize that once the request is completed it can be applied to any phone, be it iPhone or otherwise. To think that the government would keep their promise and apply this to only the specified phone leads me to believe your gullibility on the government’s intensions. If you truly believe that the government will keep their word, who is watching the government to ensure that they keep their side of the promise? The government?

              As to the statement that lives are more important than data: these are hypotheticals. All you need to do is go back a few years or two and see that the government can’t even keep us safe. But, you’re asking us to trust the ruling of one judge?

              You say that Apple is easily able to accomplish this because they built the lock. So how do you open this lock that does not have a key, as Apple has reiterated numerous times. If you say that Apple can reverse engineer the lock, again, you missed the point. If Apple were to do this, Apple has, by fiat, created a backdoor for the FBI which you vehemently state that it has not.

              This is a slippery-slope that is too dangerous to be left to one judge.

            4. We disagree. Big time.

              This is why God invented Judges. To make these calls.

              Lives are at stake – here 14 are already dead. When I weigh privacy of information against saving lives I go with saving lives every time.

              It has something to do with ethics and responsibility to our fellow man.

              Remember that our iPhones are nothing but electronic file cabinets with a fancy lock. We subpoena files in file cabinets everyday, and we’ve been doing it for hundreds of years.

              The same rules apply today that have applied all these years – if the government carries its burden a Judge will issue the Court Order.

              The only thing different today is that this terrorist’s file cabinet has a really fancy lock.

              If lives can be saved the locks come off.

        2. It remains unclear if it is even technical possible for Apple to comply with the judge’s order on this particular phone. The facts are murky and the mass media, which is largely technologically illiterate, spews out confusion.

        3. But Apple has made it clear, they do not currently have the technology to unlock just this one iPhone. To meet the court order they will have to invest human resources, time and capital into the R&D for this effort. But they may fail.

          How can a judge order a company to invent new technology where none existed before?

          Apple does not have they “keys” to open this iPhone.

          If the FBI want into this one iPhone then they should try do it themselves.

          1. Right – Apple can’t do this! I have a Bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

            Apple is also in the data security business – BIG TIME. They were well aware that someday this fact scenario might develop. They need to comply with the Order.

            The reason is to save lives.

        4. Steve, still missing the point.
          Neither Apple nor anyone else can do what the judge asks for just one phone, it has to be, at the very least, for a class of phones.
          So the phrase, “just one phone” is redundant in the request, which either knowingly or unknowingly acts as a smokescreen for what is being requested.
          And this is only looking at the technological issue.
          The legal aspect of the “just this one phone” is as troubling: once the order is upheld it sets a precedent, so it can’t be for “just this one phone.” This is the slippery slope argument, which is different from the technological argument, where it simply doesn’t mean anything.
          I only reply because you are making what otherwise would be a valid argument.
          So, respectfully yours,
          Etc.

          1. PeteJonG,
            Your concern – if I’m correct – is that this single Court order could open the door to improper acts by the Government. I understand that. But the Government is not taking such a shotgun approach – it is doing so case by case.

            I frankly don’t much care what Apple needs to do to comply. They know full well that this information might save lives. their “data must be private” argument is plain wrong IN THIS CASE – where lives could be saved.

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