Black Lives Matter Joins Apple In Encryption Fight

Above Photo: Getty Images

Civil rights groups have a profound and long-standing interest in law enforcement and the surveillance state, that’s what has them joining Apple in its fight with the FBI to protect our right to protect our data.

In recent weeks, voices in the movement and civil rights activists such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson have met with Apple officials and filed briefs on behalf of the company, which is resisting a court order to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. […]“This case cuts right to the heart of our right to live free from unwarranted government surveillance,” Jackson wrote to the judge overseeing the case between Apple and the FBI. […]

“It raises eyebrows that we, as young activists working in a specific realm, found our role in this fight between Apple and the FBI,” said Linda Sarsour, a member of Justice League NYC, an activist group pushing criminal justice reform and protesting police violence. […] “We’re millennials,” said Sarsour, 36. “This is how we bring people together.”

“In the context of white supremacy and police violence, Black people need encryption,” tweeted Malkia Cyril, director of the Center for Media Justice, a racial justice group that also signed on to the letter.

That broadens Apple’s argument that this case is about more than just one phone, a premise that law enforcement has essentially already conceded. It expands the argument beyond Silicon Valley and the tech companies who all have a clear impetus to not have their security weakened and their customers’ privacy jeopardized, either by the government or by malicious hackers taking advantage of the backdoor the FBI is demanding.

It’s also key to Black Lives Matter and how they are working to reduce police violence. They organize through technology and they’ve had decades of law enforcement using that tool against them, all the way back to the FBI’s illegal surveillance of Martin Luther King, Jr. The FBI’s efforts to expand legal surveillance, Sarsour argues, will “most directly” affect “people of color, immigrant communities, Muslim communities and political activists.” As it’s always been.