Hit & Run

Declan McCullagh on the Apple vs. FBI Encryption Fight

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The fight over encryption between the FBI and Apple isn't just about the FBI and Apple. Declan McCullagh writes:

There's an excellent reason why just about everyone in Silicon Valley is alarmed by the FBI's demands for encryption backdoors: we expect the feds will show up at our doorsteps next.

That's why Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, WhatsApp, and other software companies are backing Apple publicly. They filed a brief in federal court this week warning that requiring a backdoored fbiOS would kick off an unprecedented wave of surveillance demands. They say, with some understatement, that "investigative tools meant for extraordinary cases may become standard in ordinary ones."

This is not merely a convenient intersection of marketing and customer privacy. Given the existence of scores of federal police agencies, it's simple self-preservation. Once an fbiOS precedent is set, the U.S. Marshals, Homeland Security, postal inspectors, Secret Service, and military police will also invoke the All Writs Act to demand that companies build equally extensive backdoors. Local and state police won't want to be left behind.