UN human rights chief warns of worldwide privacy implications of Apple-FBI case
A ruling ordering Apple to help the FBI access the iPhone of San Bernardino mass shooter Syed Rizwan Farook could make it impossible for the company or any other major international IT vendor to safeguard users’ privacy anywhere in the world, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Friday.
A decision against Apple would be “potentially a gift to authoritarian regimes, as well as to criminal hackers,” Zeid said. Authorities in other countries have already made efforts to force IT and communications companies such as Google and BlackBerry to expose their customers to mass surveillance, he added.
Zeid’s statement is a shot in the arm for Apple’s appeal in the case. A magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Eastern Division, has ordered Apple to provide technical assistance, including possibly signed software, to help the FBI use brute force to crack the passcode of the iPhone 5c used by Farook in the San Bernardino, California, attack on Dec. 2, without triggering an auto-erase feature.