Don’t Undermine Encryption: Apple vs. NSA


Crypto Wars 2 pit encryption advocates against the FBI which wants code written to break password protections in smartphones. Only weeks after the broad open letter was prepared: the issue broke when the FBI got a court order to compel Apple Computer to break its own smartphone encryption. Apple is fighting the order.


What you can do:

1) Sign the open letter at as an individual and share it.

2) Get educated on the issue. This is not about *one* phone, this is about everyone’s phone. Here are some good resources to start with:

Bruce Schneier’s Blog

Edward Snowden Interview on Apple vs FBI (video)

NY Times Editorial Board: Why Apple is Right

3) Get Active

Demonstrations were held in cities across the nation on just a few days notice. Grab your friends and visit an Apple store and tell them you support Apple’s stand. Tell your own cell phone manufacturer that they better do the same. Write a letter to the editor.

Here’s a photo album from the 2/23 demonstration at 1 Stockton Street in San Francisco.


An open letter with a broad base of international support calls on governments to stop undermining encryption and keep the Internet secure.

You can sign on to the letter as an individual or organizationally at


To the leaders of the world’s governments –

We urge you to protect the security of your citizens, your economy, and your government by supporting the development and use of secure communications tools and technologies, rejecting policies that would prevent or undermine the use of strong encryption, and urging other leaders to do the same.

Encryption tools, technologies, and services are essential to protect against harm and to shield our digital infrastructure and personal communications from unauthorized access. The ability to freely develop and use encryption provides the cornerstone for today’s global economy. Economic growth in the digital age is powered by the ability to trust and authenticate our interactions and communicate and conduct business securely, both within and across borders.

Some of the most noted technologists and experts on encryption recently explained (PDF) that laws or policies that undermine encryption would “force a U-turn from the best practices now being deployed to make the Internet more secure,” “would substantially increase system complexity” and raise associated costs, and “would create concentrated targets that could attract bad actors.” The absence of encryption facilitates easy access to sensitive personal data, including financial and identity information, by criminals and other malicious actors. Once obtained, sensitive data can be sold, publicly posted, or used to blackmail or embarrass an individual. Additionally, insufficiently encrypted devices or hardware are prime targets for criminals.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression has noted, “encryption and anonymity, and the security concepts behind them, provide the privacy and security necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age.” As we move toward connecting the next billion users, restrictions on encryption in any country will likely have global impact. Encryption and other anonymizing tools and technologies enable lawyers, journalists, whistleblowers, and organizers to communicate freely across borders and to work to better their communities. It also assures users of the integrity of their data and authenticates individuals to companies, governments, and one another.

We encourage you to support the safety and security of users by strengthening the integrity of communications and systems. All governments should reject laws, policies, or other mandates or practices, including secret agreements with companies, that limit access to or undermine encryption and other secure communications tools and technologies.  Users should have the option to use – and companies the option to provide – the strongest encryption available, including end-to-end encryption, without fear that governments will compel access to the content, metadata, or encryption keys without due process and respect for human rights. Accordingly:

  • Governments should not ban or otherwise limit user access to encryption in any form or otherwise prohibit the implementation or use of encryption by grade or type;
  • Governments should not mandate the design or implementation of “backdoors” or vulnerabilities into tools, technologies, or services;
  • Governments should not require that tools, technologies, or services are designed or developed to allow for third-party access to unencrypted data or encryption keys;
  • Governments should not seek to weaken or undermine encryption standards or intentionally influence the establishment of encryption standards except to promote a higher level of information security. No government should mandate insecure encryption algorithms, standards, tools, or technologies; and
  • Governments should not, either by private or public agreement, compel or pressure an entity to engage in activity that is inconsistent with the above tenets.

Strong encryption and the secure tools and systems that rely on it are critical to improving cybersecurity, fostering the digital economy, and protecting users. Our continued ability to leverage the internet for global growth and prosperity and as a tool for organizers and activists requires the ability and the right to communicate privately and securely through trustworthy networks.

We look forward to working together toward a more secure future.

Access Now,      ACI-Participa,      Advocacy for Principled Action in Government,      Alternative Informatics Association, Alternatives,      Alternatives Canada,      Alternatives International,      American Civil Liberties Union,      American Library Association,      Amnesty International,      ARTICLE 19,      La Asociación Colombiana de Usuarios de Internet,      Asociación por los Derechos Civiles,      Asociatia pentru Tehnologie si Internet (ApTI),      Association for Progressive Communications (APC),      Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Australian Privacy Foundation,     Benetech, Bill of Rights Defense Committee,     Bits of Freedom,      Blueprint for Free Speech,      Bolo Bhi,      the Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University Delhi,      Center for Democracy and Technology,      Center for Digital Democracy,      Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights,      the Center for Internet and Society (CIS),      Center for Media,      Data and Society at the School of Public Policy of Central European University,      Center for Technology and Society at FGV Rio Law School,      Chaos Computer Club,      CivSource,      Committee to Protect Journalists,      Constitutional Alliance,      Constitutional Communications,      Consumer Action,      Consumer Federation of America,      Consumer Watchdog,      ContingenteMX, Críptica,,      Defending Dissent Foundation,      Digitalcourage,      Digitale Gesellschaft,      Digital Empowerment Foundation,      Digital Rights Foundation,      DSS216, Electronic Frontier Finland,      Electronic Frontier Foundation,      Electronic Frontiers Australia, Electronic Privacy Information Center,      Engine, Enjambre Digital,      Eticas Research and Consulting,      European Digital Rights,      Fight for the Future,      Föreningen för digitala fri- och rättigheter (DFRI),      Foundation for Internet and Civic Culture (Thai Netizen Network),      Freedom House,      Freedom of the Press Foundation,      Freedom to Read Foundation,      Free Press,      Free Press Unlimited,      Free Software Foundation,      Fundacion Acceso,      Future of Privacy Forum,      Future Wise,      Globe International Center,      The Global Network Initiative (GNI),      Global Voices Advox,      Government Accountability Project,      Hiperderecho,      Hivos,      Human Rights Foundation,      Human Rights Watch,      Institute for Technology and Society of Rio (ITS Rio),      Instituto Demos,      the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI),      International Press Institute (IPI),      Internet Democracy Project,      IPDANDETEC, IT-Political Association of Denmark,      Jonction,      Jordan Open Source Association,      Karisma Foundation,      Keyboard Frontline,      Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet,      Localization Lab,      Media Alliance,      Modern Poland Foundation,      Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO),      Net Users’ Rights Protection Association (NURPA),      New America’s Open Technology Institute,      Niskanen Center,      One World Platform Foundation,      OpenMedia,      Open Net Korea,      Open Rights Group,      Panoptykon Foundation,      Paradigm Initiative Nigeria,      Patient Privacy Rights,      PEN American Center,      PEN International,      Point of View,      Privacy International,      Privacy Rights Clearinghouse,      Privacy Times,      Protection International,      La Quadrature du Net,      R3D (Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales),      R Street Institute,      Reinst8,      Restore the Fourth,,      Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC),      Security First,,      Share Foundation,      Simply Secure,      Social Media Exchange (SMEX),      SonTusDatos (Artículo 12, A.C.),      Student Net Alliance,     Sursiendo,      Comunicación y Cultura Digital,      TechFreedom,      The Tor Project,      Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University,      Usuarios Digitales,      Viet Tan,      Vrijschrift,      WITNESS,      World Privacy Forum,      X-Lab,      Xnet,      Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum