Technology

Apple Inc. Vs. FBI Debate Just Got Some Color, But Mostly Black

Apple and the FBI‘s court fight is prompting a large amount of letters and legal briefs from outside parties, including many privacy groups and tech companies. The most influential letter came from a group of racial justice activists, including Black Lives Matter, says a report from The Intercept.

Apple Inc. Vs. FBI Debate Just Got Some Color, But Mostly Black

FBI and privacy don’t go together

Whether the FBI should get the power to force a tech company to weaken its own security was the main focus of the letter.

Recalling the days of J. Edgar Hoover and the wiretapping of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the signatories including arts and music nonprofit Beats, Rhymes & Relief, Justice League NYC, activist and writer Shaun King, the Center for Media Justice, the Gathering for Justice, and Black Lives Matter cofounder and Black Alliance for Just Immigration executive director Opal Tometi. They wrote that the FBI has not always respected the right of privacy.

Malkia Cyril, cofounder of the Center for Media Justice, supported the tech giant and tweeted, “In the context of white supremacy and police violence, Black people need encryption.”

People who support Black Lives Matter protested across the country, including at the FBI’s headquarters.

Cyril said, “I think racial justice organizations have a clear stake in the fight for encryption.”

Cyril, a poet, wants the layman to comprehend how surveillance affects low-income communities of color.

“The mundane surveillance of people of color is what gives rise to bulk surveillance at a federal level … not the other way around.”

Apple vs. FBI: many eyes on the battle

DeRay Mckesson, a Baltimore mayoral candidate and prominent Black Lives Matter organizer, tweeted that he has been reviewing the Apple vs. FBI lawsuit and completely agrees with the iPhone maker. Mckesson added that when he was arrested in protest, his iPhone was in police custody, but his information was safe. And if Apple creates an insecure iPhone iOS app, then all iPhones will be at risk.

One of the most shocking parts of history is how surveillance has been used against black people who advocate for their justice, Tometi, another signatory, wrote in an email to The Intercept. Tometi told the website that surveillance has been used to discredit, abuse and incarcerate them.

On the other hand, the cybersecurity firms called Black Lives Matter organizers Mckesson and Johnetta Elzie “threat actors.” Over the summer, cybersecurity firms said that such people must be constantly monitored to maintain public security.

Starting March 22, California Federal Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym, who will hear arguments on the Apple case, will probably give her view on the letter.