Protesters with internet rights advocacy group Fight for the Future gathered outside the flagship Apple Store in San Francisco on Wednesday to support Apple’s decision to fight government backdoors in iOS.
The protest came hours after Tim Cook published an open letter vowing to challenge the FBI’s request to unlock an iPhone using special firmware.
Apple received a court order this week that asked it to provide the FBI with access to an iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Ryzwan Farook. Apple was asked to create a backdoor in a special firmware that would circumvent the iPhone’s passcode lock.
Cook opposed this, arguing that it is a very risky move that opens up the otherwise incredibly secure iOS platform to hackers, puts users at risk, and violates privacy.
FFTF, which has been closely following Apple’s fight against these backdoors, was pleased with the company’s response on Wednesday. Co-founder Holmes Wilson, who helped organize the protest, told AppleInsider, “I do not consent to the search of this device.”
“It began as a basic privacy issue, but the more we get into it, we learn it’s a bigger issue about the future of online security,” Wilson added, before suggesting the FBI is leveraging this high-profile terrorism case to push its own agenda forward.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been fighting to ensure access to encrypted user data that could be used to solve crimes. But many argue this would be a violation of privacy, creating a surveillance state that would allow users to be spied on.
The government insists that if Apple were to comply with its request to create a special firmware, it would only be used in this specific case. But Apple warns there’s no way to guarantee that, and that the firmware could be taken advantage of.
“Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create,” Cook said.
Apple has vowed to take the matter to the Supreme Court if necessary. In the meantime, FFTF plans to carry out additional protests next Tuesday at 5: 30 p.m. local time at various Apple Stores throughout the U.S. and perhaps in other countries, too.