Washington, D.C.—February 17, 2016 The Niskanen Center applauds the stance taken by Apple CEO Tim Cook this morning, in an open letter in response to a Riverside, CA judge’s ruling that Apple is obligated to decrypt the iPhones of the San Bernardino shooters. In his letter, Cook refuses to comply with the order and vows to continue supporting strong encryption for his company’s customers.
“Tim Cook has done a great thing today,” said Ryan Hagemann, the Niskanen Center’s technology and civil liberties policy analyst. “By standing strong in his company’s opposition to government overreach, Tim Cook has proved that Apple is a true leader in the fight to protect the data and privacy of its customers. Due process is a fundamental right of the American people.”
The court ruled that the FBI has the authority to demand the development of a backdoor for the purposes of accessing Farook’s phone data under an 18th century catchall statute known as the All Writs Act. The Act is interpreted to permit courts to issue an order that compels a person or company to do something.
“The All Writs Act is a very broad statutory authority and was never meant to be a tool for circumventing 4th Amendment warrant requirements,” said Hagemann. “The real concern with this ruling is that it could easily set a precedent giving the government the authority to install targeted backdoors.”
Hagemman continues: “This is another example of the long history of law enforcement and intelligence agencies bending the law in order to bypass due process. Apple and Mr. Cook should be applauded for standing up for the freedoms and liberties that are meant to be protected by the government.”
The Niskanen Center is a libertarian 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that was established in 2014 that works to change public policy through direct engagement in the policymaking process.