Microsoft backs Apple in its fight with the FBI

Breaking from Bill Gates

Microsoft is "wholeheartedly" supporting Apple in its ongoing battle with the FBI, the company's president said today before Congress.

Brad Smith, who doubles as Microsoft's chief legal officer, made Redmond's loyalties known before a Congressional hearing on international data transfer laws.

"We at Microsoft support Apple and will be filing an amicus brief next week," Smith said, according to The Seattle Times.

Smith went so far as producing a 1911 adding machine to demonstrate how antiquated he considers the All Writs Act, which the FBI is citing in its case against Apple.

"We do not believe that courts should seek to resolve issues of 21st Century technology with a law that was written in the era of the adding machine," he said.

Apple is facing off with the FBI over unlocking a terrorist's iPhone. The FBI is requesting Apple build a special software to bypass security measures on the phone, a tool Apple considers too dangerous to create.

Until today, Microsoft offered tepid support of its Cupertino rival. Smith spoke in general terms about protecting privacy on Twitter last week, and CEO Satya Nadella retweeted a post by Smith without offering a direct comment.

Other technology leaders, including the CEOs of Google, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, strongly voiced support for Apple and CEO Tim Cook, and harangued the government's demands.

Notably, Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates took a different tact earlier this week, saying that, in this specific case, Apple should work with the FBI to access data on the phone. He also insisted that a process should be in place to moderate government access.

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News Editor (US)

As the US News Editor, Michelle (Twitter, Google+) keeps her eye on all things tech with particular interest on phones, tablets and finding out who the people are behind the devices. Any phone that can survive a regular (accidental) drop has her vote for best handset. Michelle previously worked covering local news in the Bay Area and has been with TechRadar since July 2012.