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open letter

An open letter to Tim Cook, CEO, Apple, Inc.

Thoughtworks supports privacy and security for every citizen of the world

I'm writing, as a concerned citizen and Chairman of Thoughtworks, Inc., to express my strongest support for the efforts of Apple’s leaders in the recent iPhone backdoor case.


Apple has been forced to speak for the voiceless citizens of the U.S. and the world on this issue. Apple's actions defend human rights not just for its own customers, but for everyone in society as we rush towards a high-tech future. We strongly condemn any government, company or inpidual that implies privacy is merely a convenience, or ignores the far reaching impact of this issue.


There have been very few occasions where corporations have played such a pivotal role on issues of social and moral justice. As we get closer to the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech at Riverside Church, where he noted that the U.S. was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, we are reminded that King himself was a victim of government wiretaps and egregious attempted intimidation. King’s famous words, “a time comes when silence is betrayal,” are as relevant now as they were then.


Today’s technology sector is dominated by companies from one country – the U.S. Yet this technology is used worldwide and global corporations like Thoughtworks and Apple follow the appropriate statutes in the countries where they operate. Therefore, all decisions regarding privacy and security are in fact critical global questions. They are not and should not be subject to the demands solely of one governing body.


It is Thoughtworks’ position that we are at an inflection point in the fight for privacy and human rights, the fight between governments and inpidual citizens who would hold them accountable. We share your belief that Apple is constitutionally protected against being forced to write code that allows access to external parties. Creating backdoors, even if one agrees in one case with one government, is a Faustian pact for tech firms. Any backdoor creates a vulnerability that would ultimately hand access to users' security not just to U.S. law enforcement, but to criminals, and to others who would take advantage of reduced user privacy. Therefore, acceding to the pressures of the FBI and NSA undermines not only the rights of all people around the world, but it actually poses grave dangers for dissidents and it creates structural flaws in all of modern commerce. The time has come to call for a global right of all citizens to privacy and security in the new digital age.


Technology connects us all and we must protect privacy and user’s rights across all borders. Thoughtworks has historically taken a strong stance against government surveillance and we know that the U.S. and other governments have mounted an ongoing, systematic intrusion into the private lives of citizens. We must be vigilant in our efforts to protect humanity and the future of technology from succumbing to totalitarian pressure.


Apple's actions in this case are courageous and principled, and we believe Apple to be on the right side of history. I applaud you and your team for taking a bold global leadership position on this issue and we at Thoughtworks stand shoulder to shoulder with Apple to support privacy and security for every citizen of the world.


Yours in solidarity,


Roy Singham, Chairman, Thoughtworks, Inc.