Apple May Use a First Amendment Defense in That FBI Case. And It Just Might Work

"“The human equivalent of the company signing code is basically saying, ‘We believe that this code is safe for you to run,'” says Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. “So I think that when you force Apple to cryptographically sign the software, it has a communicative aspect to it that I think is compelled speech to force them to do it.”

Granick, who is working on an amicus brief to file in support of Apple, says the other argument—that simply forcing Apple to write the software tool is compelling the company’s speech—is a weaker argument to her.

“[B]ecause what’s so expressive, necessarily, about that? But to me, the signing is expressive—very clearly so,” she says. “That’s kind of what the code signing is—it’s saying ‘I’m Apple Computer and we support this software and we think this software is safe for you to run’ … So a forced signature to me is compelled speech.”"