Apple Inc.’s ongoing case against the U.S. Justice Department over its refusal to comply with a court order to assist FBI agents access an encrypted iPhone has influenced other Silicon Valley giants such as Snapchat, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to boost efforts to secure their networks.
This could affect future investigations by the US government as it will be forced to request for their cooperation if it is to make any headway. The plans also indicate that tech firms are backing their vocal support for Apple Inc. with tangible actions.
It could also mean that Apple is using its soft power to influence the court case in its favor. The Cupertino, CA-based company was ordered by a U.S. District Magistrate Sheri Pym to help the US government access an encrypted iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the suspects involved in December shootings in San Bernardino, CA. that left 14 people dead and 22 others injured.
Facebook, Google and Snapchat Scale Encryption Efforts
Facebook Inc has announced plans to boost security of its secure messaging app WhatsApp by encrypting voice calls, besides improving other existing privacy tools. WhatsApp boasts about 1 billion users per month. Facebook is also rumored to be thinking of improving the security of its Messenger service.
Even the hugely-popular messaging service Snapchat isn’t ready to be left behind. It is thought to be developing a messaging service with watertight security. Google, which has long been working on an encrypted email system, is considering other uses for this technology.
Other major firms such as Twitter have dabbled with secure encrypted messaging systems, though most of their products never left the lab as they were thought to be difficult to use, or because the companies shifted their focus to more consumer-friendly products.
Hence, the increased publicity on encryption that has been brought by Apple’s case could mean that top business executives could devote more resources to the development of encrypted platforms to boost their business advantage, as opposed to being a mere sales pitch.
Apple Due to Table Defense March 22
Apple is scheduled to table its defense in a federal court in Riverside, CA on March 22 on why it feels it shouldn’t decrypt the iPhone.
While some of the tech companies began encrypting their products before Apple’s case started, most of them have recently started to scale their efforts to build secure platforms. This has in the past put them on a collision course with Washington. US Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and US Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein of California have revealed plans to develop a law that makes it costly for tech companies that develop encryption systems that authorities cannot access.
Even President Barack Obama himself is a vocal critic, saying tech companies are now going too far.
Still Apple won’t budge. The company has hired renowned cyber security expert Frederic Jacobs, one of the brains behind Signal, a secure messaging app that has been applauded as being very difficult to hack into. Jacobs will work with the security team involved in iPhone’s core software.