AT&T Files Brief Backing Apple in Encryption Battle


AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has joined more than two dozen Internet and technology companies in filing legal briefs requesting that a federal judge support Apple Inc.’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) position in its battle with the U.S. government over encryption, Reuters reported.

The Dallas-based telecom giant on Thursday joined such companies as Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Alphabet Inc.’s Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) in supporting Apple’s resistance to a court order requiring it to write new software that would disable the password protection in an iPhone used by one of the killers involved in a mass shooting in December at a San Bernardino, California, community center. Fourteen people died in the shootings.

In its brief, AT&T called for a “new legislation solution” that “applies equally to all holders of personal information.”

Reuters said it’s a rare display of unity by companies that often are rivals of Apple.

Encryption is a method of data security called ciphertext that makes the information hard or impossible to access for anyone who doesn’t have the password or is unauthorized.

In its brief, AT&T called for a “new legislation solution” that “applies equally to all holders of personal information,” Reuters reported.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking to break into the phone to gain more information about the activities and contacts of the shooter.

Apple has argued that such a move would establish a dangerous precedent and would threaten the security of its customers. Apple asked that the order be vacated.

Victims’ families have opposed Apple’s resistance, saying in their legal briefs that bypassing the encryption on the iPhone was the equivalent of unlocking a door to look for evidence.

The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Sheri Pym of Riverside, California, had set Thursday as the deadline for interested parties to file briefs. Several privacy advocacy groups also filed briefs in the case.

Reuters reported that earlier this week, a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York,  ruled that the federal government had overstepped its authority by asking for similar assistance from Apple in a drug case.

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