Microsoft ‘wholeheartedly’ supports Apple in iPhone hacking case

Microsoft president Brad Smith said the company 'wholeheartedly' supports Apple in the debate over hacking an iPhone.
Microsoft president Brad Smith said the company 'wholeheartedly' supports Apple in the debate over hacking an iPhone. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Apple has gained an unlikely ally in its legal dispute with the FBI.

Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith declared Thursday the company “wholeheartedly” supports Apple in its fight to oppose a court order asking the iPhone maker to hack an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.

He also announced Microsoft will file an amicus brief supporting Apple’s case, according to New York Times reporter Nick Wingfield.

READ MORE: iPhone hacking ‘hardest question I’ve seen in government’ sys FBI director

Smith made the remarks before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Hearing on “International Conflicts of Law and their Implications for Cross Border Data Requests by Law Enforcement.”

Last week a U.S. magistrate judge ordered Apple to help the FBI hack into an encrypted iPhone used by Syed Farook, who along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in San Bernardino last December.

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READ MORE: Complying with the FBI would be ‘bad for America’ says Apple CEO

The ruling would require Apple to create special software enabling the FBI to bypass the built-in self-destruct feature that erases the phone’s data after too many unsuccessful passcode attempts.

Apple is expected to file a formal objection on Friday.

Earlier this week Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has disputed reports that he sides with the FBI when it comes to whether Apple should hack the iPhone. Gates said when it comes to this particular case, he believes the courts should decide whether or not Apple should be forced to hack the phone.

Apple vs. FBI: What happens next?

March 3: This is the deadline for any supporters or opponents of the case to file “friend of the court” briefs, stating their stance on the matter. A number of leading tech companies – including Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Twitter – have vowed to file a brief in support of Apple.

March 10: The government will have a chance to respond to Apple’s order asking the federal magistrate to reverse her order.

March 15: Once the government has issued its final response, Apple will have a chance to reply by this date.

March 22: Lawyers representing both Apple and the FBI will appear in a district court in California. Each side will argue their case to the magistrate judge, who is expected to hand down her ruling shortly after. The losing party will have the option to appeal the ruling.

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