Apple has a new set of allies in its fight against the FBI. Citing concern for civil liberties, several advocacy organizations and activists of color signed an official letter supporting the tech giant’s right to not remove security protections on suspects’ Apple devices. 

Black Lives Matter co-creator Opal Tometi, New York Daily News writer and activist Shaun King and advocacy group Center for Media Justice are among the six co-signees of a letter sent last Thursday (March 3) to judge Sheri Pym. Pym is the California judge who ordered Apple to help federal authorities decrypt an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino massacre perpetrators. Apple has been reluctant to assist the FBI and the signees cited civil liberties and free speech concerns in their letter to Pym: 

Please know that we are all unequivocally saddened by and opposed to to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino last year. At the same time, we do not believe fear should distract from the need to protect civil liberties.

By requiring Apple to dismantle its security protections, millions of iPhone users—government officials and civilians alike—risk falling victim to cyberattacks, which ultimately threaten domestic and national security.

As activists supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and other social justice imperatives, there is even more at stake.

As Rev. Jesse Jackson recalled last week, one need only look to the days of J. Edgar Hoover and wiretapping of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to recognize the FBI has not always respected the right to privacy for groups it did not agree with. Even the FBI now agrees COINTELPRO amounted to a violation of the First Amendment. And many of us, as civil rights advocates, have become targets of government surveillance for no reason beyond our advocacy or provision of social services for the underrepresented. 

Click here to read the full letter. 

(H/t San Bernardino Sun, The Intercept)