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FBI iPhone unlock order reaction: Trump, Rubio say no to Apple. EFF and Twitter say yes

Lots of upset, little insight

Speak Your Brains A moment of mass collective commentary is upon us following the response of Apple CEO Tim Cook to a judge's demand that the computer company unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.

Since it's been only a few hours since Cook's letter in which he called the request "an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers," the quality of the public discussion that Cook has specifically requested has not been high.

Unsurprisingly, first out the gates have been those who have been following the increasingly rancorous encryption debate that is at the heart of the issue.

Edward Snowden, who in many respects kickstarted the whole issue by revealing the extent of mass surveillance carried out by the US government, was quick with his commentary: "The FBI is creating a world where citizens rely on Apple to defend their rights, rather than the other way around," he tweeted, before retweeting important aspects of the order from others.

He then pointedly highlighted the fact that Google is staying quiet on the whole issue: something that Snowden among others sees as evidence that Google is willing to comply with law enforcement demands.

Likewise, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which predictably enough is firmly behind Apple's stance.

It rapidly posted its position: "The EFF applauds Apple for standing up for real security and the rights of its customers. We have been fighting to protect encryption, and stop backdoors, for over 20 years. That's why EFF plans to file an amicus brief in support of Apple's position."


Almost immediately, politicians started piling into the debate – most, it must be said, with limited understanding or knowledge of what was being requested and the implications of it.

Predictably it fell down partisan lines.

Democratic Representative Ted Lieu (of California) published a statement that came down firmly in support of Apple and worried about the future implications. "This FBI court order, by compelling a private sector company to write new software, is essentially making that company an arm of law-enforcement," he argued, before adding: "This court order also begs the question: Where does this kind of coercion stop? Can the government force Facebook to create software that provides analytic data on who is likely to be a criminal? Can the government force Google to provide the names of all people who searched for the term ISIL? Can the government force Amazon to write software that identifies who might be suspicious based on the books they ordered?"

Republican Senator Tom Cotton (from Arkansas) was having none of that wider-implication nonsense. "Apple chose to protect a dead ISIS terrorist's p‎rivacy over the security of the American people," he declared, before expanding the question in the other direction. "The problem of end-to-end encryption isn't just a terrorism issue. It is also a drug-trafficking, kidnapping, and child pornography issue that impacts every state of the Union. It's unfortunate that the great company Apple is becoming the company of choice for terrorists, drug dealers, and sexual predators of all sorts."

Next page: Wannabe presidents

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