'Don't Break Our Phone' Rallies Planned to Support Apple Refusing to Help FBI Access Shooter's iPhone | NBC Bay Area
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'Don't Break Our Phone' Rallies Planned to Support Apple Refusing to Help FBI Access Shooter's iPhone

"We're angry that the FBI is trying to make all of us less safe by undermining Apple's security," the group's organizers said.

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    Rallies were planned at Apple stores from Albuquerque to Munich Tuesday evening to support CEO Tim Cook's refusal to help the FBI access the cell phone of a gunman who took part in the killings of 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. Four of those 30 rallies were scheduled for the Bay Area, the heart of Silicon Valley, and the closest stores to the heart of Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California. Chuck Coppola reports. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016)

    Rallies were planned at Apple stores from Albuquerque to Munich on Tuesday to support CEO Tim Cook's refusal to help the FBI access the cellphone of a gunman who, along with his wife, killed 14 people in San Bernardino.

    Four of those 30 rallies were planned in the San Francisco Bay Area, the heart of Silicon Valley and the stores closest to Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California. The rallies will take place at 5:30 p.m. local time in Corte Madera, Santa Rosa, San Francisco and Palo Alto, the store that Cook frequents the most. 

    Rallies will also be held in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Connecticut, Houston, San Diego and Los Angeles County, among other locations.

    "We're angry that the FBI is trying to make all of us less safe by undermining Apple's security," the group's organizers wrote on the "Don't Break Our Phones" website.

    Organizers say their goal is to show lawmakers why decrypting Syed Rizwan Farook's phone would be "dangerous." They encourage protesters to bring signs that read: "FBI: Don't Break Our iPhones!" and "Secure Phones Save Lives."

    A majority of Americans, however — including Bill Gates — side with the Justice Department in the agency's desire to unlock the iPhone of the Dec. 2 gunman, according to a Pew Research Center study released Monday. A total of 51 percent of those surveyed said Apple should unlock the iPhone, while 38 said the company should not.

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym, based in Riverside, ordered Apple last week to help the FBI access the password-protected phone, but Apple has resisted, saying such a move could compromise the security of all iPhone owners' information.

    Cook reiterated that position in a company email Monday.

    "This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation, so when we received the government's order we knew we had to  speak out," Cook wrote. "At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone's civil liberties."

    The U.S. attorney's office filed court papers in Riverside on Friday seeking an order compelling Apple to comply with Pym's mandate. Federal authorities argue in the court papers that Apple has the technical ability to access Farook's phone data.

    According to the court papers filed Friday, federal authorities suspect that Farook, 28, may have used the iPhone, which was issued to him by his employer — San Bernardino County — to communicate with some of the people he and his wife, 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik, killed.

    "The phone may contain critical communications and data prior to and  around the time of the shooting that, thus far has not been accessed, may reside solely on the phone and cannot be accessed by any other means known to  either the government or Apple."

    Prosecutors also insist that their request will not compromise the data of other iPhone users.

    "The order requires Apple to assist the FBI with respect to this single iPhone used by Farook by providing the FBI with the opportunity to determine the passcode," they said in court paperwork.

    See the full list of rallies planned.

    City News Service and NBC Los Angeles' Toni Guinyard contributed to this report.

    Contact Lisa Fernandez at lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com or 408-432-4758. Follow on Twitter at @ljfernandez