While some have questioned Microsoft’s position regarding Apple’s fight with the FBI on unlocking a specific iPhone in question, others seemingly jumped at the chance to impart a narrative for the company during its questionable silence.
Arguably, Microsoft’s muddy history with the federal government around its software services and collaboration, while previously being on trial for monopolistic behavior as a business, has many wondering on which side the company’s opinions will fall. Further obscuring the line on which the company stands is a preexisting association in a dubious nationwide surveillance effort called PRISM that also raising concerns over personal privacy as it battles the federal government over the right to content in emails hosted on its international servers. Getting a read on Microsoft’s proclivities regarding software and government intervention was seemingly as difficult as getting a cat to walk on a leash (try it, if you haven’t).
For the inquisitive, Microsoft’s chief legal officer Brad Smith recently decided to clear up the lingering confusion as he spoke with the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during a hearing entitled "Conflicts of Law Concerning Border Data Flow and Law Enforcement Request."
Spoiler alert, Microsoft stands with Apple.
Smith, putting an exclamation point on Microsoft’s agreement with Apple in its battle with the FBI over the particular language the government is using to persuade the company to unlock the phone in questions, brings with him an adding machine from 1912. Smith uses the machine as a vehicle for conversation to demonstrate that “we do not believe that courts should seek to resolve issues of 21st-century technology, with law that was written in the era of the adding machine.”
In two separate video clips, Smith lays out poignant arguments for Microsoft’s positional alignment with Apple as well as readdressing its current concerns over the search and seizure conflict it's having with the federal government regarding emails and its Ireland-based servers. Smith also throws in an unexpected jab by adding that the company will be seeking to file an amicus brief supporting Apple’s position, next week.
Please take the time to view the videos, which are both under five mins a piece, to be able to impress your friends with your quickly obtained understanding of the woefully confusing Apple court case.