Apple, world giant technology company has been locked in an epic legal battle with the United State’s law enforcement officials. The titanic struggle over access to an iPhone used by one of the attackers in the December mass killing in San Bernardino, California, might trigger a ‘tech disobedience’ or even employee rebellion among Apple engineers.
There is a strong sign that Federal Bureau of Investigation, F.B.I may run into yet another blockade even if it wins the legal dispute to force Apple to unlock an iPhone: Apple’s engineers.
According to a New York Times report, Apple employees are already discussing what they will do if ordered to help law enforcement authorities. Among those interviewed were Apple engineers who are involved in the development of mobile products and security as well as former security engineers. “It’s an independent culture and a rebellious one,” said Jean-Louis Gassée, a venture capitalist who was once an engineering manager at Apple. “If the government tries to compel testimony or action from these engineers, good luck with that.”
Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, recently suggested in an email to customers what his employees might do: “The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.”
The US government has cracked down on tech companies in the past. A judge imposed a $10,000-a-day penalty on the email service Lavabit when it did not give its digital encryption keys to investigators pursuing information on Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked documents about government surveillance.
The small company’s response could be indicative of how Apple engineers would react to a court order forcing them to unlock an iPhone. When Lavabit was held in contempt, its owner shut down the company rather than comply.
Apple employees’ concerns also provide insight into a company culture that despite the trappings of Silicon Valley wealth still views the world through the decades-old, anti-establishment prism of its co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.