Apple, other tech companies fighting U.S. over privacy

Government officials considering a lawsuit against Apple after the company refused to follow a court order which would allow the U.S. Justice Department to see text message conversations between suspected criminals, The New York Times reports. Apple told the government that its iMessage system’s encryption prevented the company from complying with the order, prompting senior Justice Department and F.B.I. officials to suggest taking Apple to court. While Apple didn’t end up being sued over that incident, Microsoft is in court over a similar refusal to turn over emails in a 2013 investigation, after the company told federal officials that they’d need to get a warrant in Ireland since the emails were hosted on a server in Dublin. Both cases have drawn the attention of privacy advocates and law enforcement agencies alike, with government officials expressing frustration with the White House for letting tech companies “win” the public relations fight over data encryption. The Justice Department wants data currently protected by Apple’s end-to-end encryption to be subject to the same types of wiretap orders that phone companies currently face for voice calls. In a May letter to President Obama, Apple joined several other companies objecting to limits on encryption, saying any built-in vulnerabilities for law enforcement use could just as easily be exploited by malicious hackers or repressive government regimes.

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