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Re/wind: Apple and the FBI Go to War Over the Right to Look Inside Your Phone

A rundown of the week's Apple-FBI headlines.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

Apple’s fight with the federal government over allowing access to encrypted user data dominated Re/code’s headlines this past week. Here’s a rundown of our coverage, to get you up to speed:


To begin the week, Apple CEO Tim Cook called for the government to convene a blue-ribbon commission on Internet privacy and security. Cook also reaffirmed his company’s opposition to a judge’s order that Apple allow the FBI entry into an encrypted iPhone used by one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting. A Pew survey released Monday found that a slim majority of Americans think Apple should let the FBI hack the San Bernardino iPhone.


The Financial Times dropped an interview late Monday night in which Bill Gates appeared to signal support for the FBI against Apple. Gates kinda sorta walked back his remarks on TV the next day, but it wasn’t at all clear what he meant.


A New York Times report says that Apple is working on improving its encryption technology so that the FBI couldn’t access locked phones, like the one used by the San Bernardino shooter, in the future.


Apple filed a motion in court, challenging the government’s authority to force Apple to allow the FBI access into the San Bernardino shooter’s phone. Not only is the government’s order based on a specious interpretation of the All Writs Act of 1789, argues Apple, but it’s also a violation of the company’s First Amendment rights. Apple also said that complying with the FBI’s request would take a month of dedicated engineering work, and that the FBI’s legal tactics really amount to a convoluted strategy for bypassing Congressional oversight. Here’s an interview Re/code Executive Editor Kara Swisher did with President Obama about government surveillance that Apple cited in its filing.

That same day, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and a number of other tech companies signaled that they were lining up behind Apple and planned to file a joint brief in court on the company’s behalf. In an interview on ABC News, Tim Cook argued that Apple’s user data protection practices weren’t just privacy-related, but also about safety.


At Apple’s annual shareholder meeting, Tim Cook addressed Apple Car speculation (no official word will be coming for awhile), and the company spent a lot of energy highlighting the efforts it was making to diversify its ranks.

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