It's not every day protesters show up in four dozen cities in support of a cause, let alone to back a highly profitable corporation whose stock is among the most highly prized on Wall Street. But because that company is Apple, run by out CEO Tim Cook, who is defiantly resisting a federal court order that has riled up privacy activists, demonstrators lined up all across the country Tuesday in a coordinated protest.
The evening rallies outside Apple stores and the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C., were organized by Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, and supported by Demand Progress,the CREDO environmental action group and other advocacy organizations.
They were prompted by last week's announcement by Cook that he would refuse to adhere to a federal judge's order to provide the FBI with access to information on an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists, which like all iPhones is encrypted. Fourteen people were killed in that tragedy last year, and investigators are looking to bypass the encryption in hopes they might find accomplices.
Cook and his supporters say creating a back door into even one iPhone could lead to an invasion of privacy for all users of the popular Apple mobile device, and set a dangerous precedent.
"People are rallying at Apple stores because what the FBI is demanding of Apple is going to make all of us less safe, not more safe," said Greer, in a statement on Fight for the Future's Tumblr page. "Encryption and security technology is what protects our hospitals, our airports, our water treatment facilities. If we allow the government to start forcing private companies to punch holes in these critical defenses, it's not a question of if those backdoors will be exploited by those wishing to do harm, but when."
Fight for the Future posted photos from the events in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Washington, New York, Boston, Houston, Portland, Ore., Ann Arbor, Mich. and, Alburqueque, N.M. on its Imgur page.
Demonstrators carried 10-foot long banners resembling iPhone screens and other iPhone-shaped signs reading "FBI: Don't Break Our Phones," "Secure Phones Save Lives," as well as some homemade signs like "It's My iPhone Not an FBIPhone."
And using a website designed just for such a demonstration, some protesters turned their mobile devices into electronic picket signs.
Organizers claimed rallies were also organized in London and Munich in defense of companies being forced to weaken encryption as a result of government pressure.
Click here to see more photos of the rallies.