The families of five people killed in the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attack assailed Apple on Thursday for “grandstanding” that distracts from the atrocity of the shooting.
The families said Apple is conflating different debates to protect its public image while it excuses itself from following the law according to a filing. The filing asks a judge to uphold her order that Apple help the FBI bypass security measures on an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the attack.
“This case is not what Apple is making it out to be,” they say in the filing, what’s known as an amicus or friend-of-the-court brief. “This is a situation where no stone can be left unturned.”
Apple’s court fight against the U.S. government has sparked a heated debate about how to weigh national security and public safety against tools that could jeopardize the digital privacy of millions of people.
But in their brief, the families claim Apple is inflating the scope of the order to drum up its case. They echoed the FBI and Justice Department’s argument that Apple wouldn’t need to create a new backdoor into anybody’s iPhone to help. “This case is about the United States’ ability to successfully execute a search warrant…on an iPhone used by a terrorist,” the brief said.
Thursday’s filing included a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook from the father of one of the men killed in December’s mass shooting, who talks about survivors of the attack.
“Some of the survivors come to these meetings pushing walkers, or limping with canes. They are reminders to me of what they went through,” he wrote.
Collectively, the families said that whatever intelligence the FBI can glean from the unlocked phone, accessing it may provide “a measure of closure” to the survivors and victims’ families.
“Doing so may avert other tragedies and spare other citizens from the same heartbreak that victims of this crime continue to suffer,” the brief said.