Microsoft’s Surprise, Says It “Stands with Apple”

Microsoft corporation office building facade with logo in Herzli

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Chief Legal Officer, Brad Smith, made an unexpectedly supportive speech at an industry event on Wednesday, endorsing Apple Inc’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) fight against federal administration, to de-crypt locked iPhones. Smith said that all technology companies should “stand up for and stand with Apple in the new important case,” that Apple is fighting to “keep the public safe.”

On Tuesday, Apple and the FBI were questioned by a Congressional Panel regarding the smartphone manufacturer’s refusal to execute a court order favoring FBI’s pleas to “unlock” an iPhone used by a terrorist in a shocking Californian massacre of 14 people.

The Panel had also accused the FBI of ‘overstepping’ by involving the courts, instead of beseeching lawmakers for pertinent rules. The FBI director reiterated that Apple was creating digital “warrant-off” spaces affecting the agencies abilities to investigate and bring justice to those affected by the criminals.

Cannot alter security-features on iOS

Apple has been rebuffing FBI’s latest round of back-door pleas to unlock criminal iPhones, for it considers such a precedent to be of ‘chilling’ consequences. FBI has asked Apple to provide a “passcode” which will allow it to access data of the iPhone. Apple’s revised privacy policies includes software-blinding, limiting the ability of third-parties to gain access. The FBI wants Apple to re-write a section of the operating system so that this limitation is by-passed and data can be accessed.

“seldom talked about” laws – The All Writs Act

Microsoft’s Smith claims that an analysis of Apple’s fight with FBI revealed that at the center of the conflict was a law that most “lawyers seldom talk about” – The All Writs Act. The law written in 1789 was last amended in 1911, at the time when the adding machine was the greatest computing device, Smith explained.

Hence, legal changes are required, Smith reiterated. He also added that encryption is essentially in the larger play of things in the technology world as “no technology is more important than encryption,” he claimed. He also endorsed efforts by Homeland Security Committee, saying government should serve the business it wants to investigate with a warrant and not the cloud service provider. Microsoft legal head’s support comes in-time with the Congressional Panel’s quizzing of Apple’s chief legal counsel on Tuesday.