Apple supporters rally at Bay Area stores

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Rallies were held in 45 cities across the U.S. Tuesday supporting Apple in its encryption fight with the U.S. Justice Department.

In the Bay Area, people gathered outside Apple Stores in Santa Rosa, Palo Alto, and San Francisco.
At the Stockton Street store in the city, supporters lined up against the wall holding signs, or their iPhones, high.

"What we're seeing here is a power grab," exclaimed speaker Malkia Cyril, to the crowd.

"I want to hear you say, 'hell no!.'"

The FBI wants into the locked phone of one of the killers in the San Bernardino terror attacks- plus at least nine other phones that are linked to crimes- in which it can't crack the passcode.

"There's no question the government is exploiting the San Bernardino case, " Shahid Buttar of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told KTVU.

"One of the reasons Apple has never built the code the FBI is demanding is because it would be among the most dangerous things created since the birth of computing," Buttar added.

The so-called "back door" to the iPhone would be dangerous, critics say, because in the wrong hands, it could undermine the device used by millions all over the world.

"It's a question of security versus security here, " observed Charlie Furman of the organization, Fight for the Future.

"Security and encryption are what keep our power plants safe, and keep our airports safe, and keep our hospitals and water treatment safe," Furman told KTVU.

FBI Director James Comey has argued in Congress, and again in this case, that he is not trying to set a precedent or set loose a "master key," but pursue investigations and find more terrorists.

Away from the protest, some people passing by agreed.

"It would benefit mankind if we could take down crooks, " said one woman, " so let them get into the phones.

They're already tracking all our information anyway."

According to the AP, Apple strategists hope to shift the battle from the courts to Congress, because the company has more influence with politicians and public opinion.

Many people following the issue are rooting for compromise.

"It would be great if they could work something out," remarked one man. " We're not going to expose everybody's private information, but it's a security issue. Keep America safe."

The latest deadline for Apple to respond to government demands is Friday February 26.

Bay Area tech companies Google, Twitter and Facebook have all thrown support behind Apple's position.