Apple is holding its annual shareholders meeting this morning at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Unsurprisingly, the big topic of the day was Apple's defense of its users as it fights the FBI's unreasonable demands to break an iPhone's encryption. CNET reported that Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, was greeted with a standing ovation, and he assured the crowd that his company was not scared of the upcoming courtroom battle. Also attending this morning's meeting was EFF's Executive Director Cindy Cohn, who made the following statement during the question and answer period:
My name is Cindy Cohn and I am the Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a member-supported nonprofit organization that has been advocating for civil liberties in the digital world for over 25 years. I don’t have a question, but I would like to make a short statement in support of Apple’s leadership in fighting for the security and privacy of its customers.
At EFF, we represent the interests of users of digital devices who need security, privacy and protection from hackers, malware and overbroad government surveillance. We also represent the interests of technology creators, who seek to build secure technologies and a technology infrastructure that all of us can trust. Since the 1990s, we have led the fight against government attempts to limit strong encryption and I personally led the first lawsuit on that issue.
We all know how fast technology moves—and for us that has meant remaining vigilant and focused on protecting users’ rights for strong security on the devices that we all increasingly rely on.
We were pleased that Apple saw that providing uncompromised device security to its customers made good business sense. Its actions in introducing default encryption in iOS8 and then strengthening it with iOS9 single handedly increased the security enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Because of this, Apple’s strong stance here against the FBI’s attempt to force them to attack their own security is incredibly important.
We’ve long warned that the FBI seeks to undermine the security for technology users, and have been warning that a showdown like this one was coming. Make no mistake, all of us have our security at stake here. There is no reliable way to build a pathway to undermine Apple’s security that will only let in good guys. And once it has built this path, there is no way that the law will limit Apple to using it on a single phone. Neither the technology nor the law supports this. As security expert Bruce Schneier said, either we all have security or none of us does.
So it's gratifying to see Apple take this stand to protect the security and privacy of its customers. We are supporting Apple publicly and will be filing a friend of the court brief siding with them because it’s wrong for the government to conscript Apple or any company or coder to write and certify brand new code that they believe, rightly, will undermine security features that protect us all.
This is about all of our safety and resisting government overreach. These are hard battles to fight—we know, we’ve been fighting them for many years. We’re proud of Apple for supporting strong encryption, which at its heart is supporting civil liberties. And we’re proud to stand with them on this fight.