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Online Privacy Advocates Step Up Support of Apple


A man holds up his iPhone during a rally in support of data privacy outside an Apple store in San Francisco, Calif., Feb. 23, 2016. Protesters lashed out at a government order requiring Apple to help unlock an encrypted iPhone.

A man holds up his iPhone during a rally in support of data privacy outside an Apple store in San Francisco, Calif., Feb. 23, 2016. Protesters lashed out at a government order requiring Apple to help unlock an encrypted iPhone.

A group of Internet privacy advocates is launching a new online campaign to rally support for Apple in their legal fight with the FBI over encryption.

The group “Fight for the Future” is soliciting supporters of enhanced encryption to add their comments on social media using the hashtag #SaveSecurity.

Those comments will be collected and then read aloud outside the California courthouse during the next hearing in Apple’s standoff with the FBI on March 22.

Fight for the Future organized dozens of flash mob-like protests last month following a ruling by a U.S. magistrate, ordering Apple engineers to assist the FBI in unlocking a mobile phone. The phone was allegedly used by one of the shooters in last December’s San Bernardino terror attack.

“This case is not just about one phone, it’s about the future of safety and security for millions of people all over the world,” Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer said in a press release issued by the group. “What the government is trying to do in this case doesn’t just threaten our basic rights, it puts all of us in danger,” he was quoted as saying.

Several organizations and groups have thrown their support behind Apple in the weeks following the ruling, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Just this week, Apple and the FBI have released statements indicating both sides are digging in their heels.

In a court filing ahead of next week’s hearings, representatives for Apple said “the Founders would be appalled” by the government’s request, adding the FBI was seeking to “rewrite history” and "usurp the legislative function and to improperly extend the limited federal court jurisdiction.”

In its filings, FBI representatives argue Apple’s refusal to comply with the order is merely part of a “deliberate marketing decision”, arguing the Apple was trying to “... alarm this Court with issues of network security, encryption, back doors, and privacy, invoking larger debates before Congress and in the news media. That is a diversion.”

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    Doug Bernard

    Doug Bernard covers cyber-issues for VOA, focusing on Internet privacy, security and censorship circumvention. Previously he edited VOA’s “Digital Frontiers” blog, produced the “Daily Download” webcast and hosted “Talk to America”, for which he won the International Presenter of the Year award from the Association for International Broadcasting. He began his career at Michigan Public Radio, and has contributed to "The New York Times," the "Christian Science Monitor," SPIN and NPR, among others. You can follow him @dfrontiers.

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