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Joining together to avoid a troubling legal precedent

Today, Google joined a variety of technology companies to file an amicus brief in US federal court. Together, we are voicing concern about the use of a broad statute from the 18th century, the All Writs Act, to require companies to re-engineer important security features that protect people and their data.

We have tremendous respect for the challenges that law enforcement officials face as they work to keep people safe. However, while we support the government’s goals of thwarting terrorist and criminal acts, the implications of this case extend well beyond this particular investigation.

The key question is whether the government should be able to use the All Writs Act to force private companies to actively compromise the safety and security features that we all build into our products. These are the same security features that we all develop to keep people safe from identity thieves, hackers, and other criminals. A bad precedent here could let governments compel companies to hack into your phones, your computers, your software, and your networks.

We’re proud to stand with our colleagues and competitors in the industry to make our views clear on this important case. It’s rare that such a wide cross-section of the industry comes together on these types of issues — but the shadow of this troubling legal precedent compels us to do so.