ACLU, Access Now, Wickr Foundation side with Apple

The American Civil Liberties Union, Access Now and the Wickr Foundation have called on a U.S. federal judge to approve Apple’s request not to be forced to build software to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attack, reports Reuters.

The privacy advocates laid out arguments in amicus briefs released on Wednesday ahead of a March 22 hearing in which Judge Sheri Pym will review Apple's appeal of a court order demanding it help unlock a phone used by Rizwan Farook.

The ACLU argued that the FBI's request would undermine the privacy and security of Americans by forcing a private firm to act as its investigative agent, seeking information that it doesn’t already possess. Alphabet’s Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter also plan to file similar briefs, notes Reuters.

In other news about Apple’s battle with the feds:

  • Attorney Ted Olson, who recently signed on to help Apple in its case with the FBI, called for the U.S. Congress and not courts to decide whether the company can be made to crack a device's security, suggesting that relying on courts could deliver a piecemeal approach.
  • FBI Director James B. Comey told lawmakers that his agents have “engaged all parts of the U.S. government” to try to get into Farook's work iPhone — with nothing to show for it.”
  • The FBI might be able to copy the hard drive of the iPhone without triggering the device’s auto-erase functions, thus eliminating the agency’s need to take Apple to court, said Bruce Sewell, Apple’s senior vice president and general counsel.