Computer codes should be protected as free speech

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  • 4 years ago
  • Posted: February 26, 2016 at 7:55 pm

In the war between Apple and the Judge’s order; Apple has decided to argue that the judge infringed the company’s 1st Amendment rights by overreached in her use of an obscure law. Tech companies want computer codes to be protected and respected by law enforcers.

On 16th this month, a judge ordered Apple to cooperate with the FBI in unlocking an iPhone 5C used by one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino shootings. The FBI wanted Apple to create a special operating system that can override iOS9’s airtight security, and install it on Farook’s phone, but according to Apple the code will breach the company’s security. The software will be able to break into any iPhone on the planet if the FBI gains control of the phone.

Just a thought; between privacy and national security, which one should be prioritized by authorities? Apple and other tech companies argue that encryption of data is very important because it protects private, personal information and communication of a gadget owner.

However, law enforcement agencies claim that technology hinders their ability to disrupt criminal and terrorist activity. Smartphones and other advanced devices hide information that can be used for public interest or for the protection of a country from terrorists.

The FBI is struggling to come up with a way of gaining access to the phone by using the All Writs Act, which was first passed by Congress in 1789 and amended over the years. The Act gives the government the power to issue orders under extraordinary circumstances when no other law or statue can be applied.

Theodore Boutrous; Apple’s lawyer said that one of the strategies will be to argue that using the All Writs Act violates Apple’s right to free speech. That’s because, the argument goes, and computer code like that underlying the iOS software is protected under the First Amendment.

“The government here is trying to use this statute from 1789 in a way that it has never been used before. They are seeking a court order to compel Apple to write new software, to compel speech,” Boutrous told the Los Angeles Times.

Boutrous said that the courts have deemed the writing of computer code a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.

Apple has until Friday to formally respond to the court order, and a hearing on the matter is set for March 22. CEO Tim Cook has said the Cupertino, California-based company is willing to take the case all the way to the US Supreme Court, if necessary.

What is your opinion on the topic?
Erick Vateta
Tech Editor at Kachwanya.com
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Erick Vateta is a lawyer by training, poet, script and creative writer by talent, a model, and tech enthusiast. He covers International tech trends, data security and cyber attacks.
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