Jesse Jackson praises Apple at shareholder’s meeting

The Rev. Jesse Jackson was one of many Apple stockholders who showered CEO Tim Cook with praise Friday during the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Cook has led Apple’s defiance of an FBI court order directing the company to help unlock an iPhone used by one of the people who opened fire on a holiday party last year in San Bernardino, Calif.

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“Where we stand in times of controversy is a measure of our character,” said the longtime civil rights leader. “Some leaders only follow opinion polls. Others stand up for their principles, refuse to compromise, and mold opinion. We have such a leader of Apple, Tim Cook.”

The Apple chief received a standing ovation when he took the stage on Friday before even starting his speech.

In his remarks, though, Cook only touched briefly on his company’s standoff with the FBI.

The bureau is asking Apple to create software to disable a failsafe feature that triggers the phone to wipe its own memory after 10 failed attempts to enter the pass code. Such a change would allow investigators to hack into the phone.

Apple — backed by other tech companies and privacy advocates — has characterized such software as a “back door” that hackers could use to crack into other iPhones. Complying would also set a dangerous precedent, the company argues, allowing the FBI to ask for more help hacking phones in future cases.

“We do these things because they are the right things to do,” Cook said, according to The New York Times. “Being hard doesn’t scare us.”

Jackson, who ran for president twice in the 1980s, lauded Cook’s stance, calling him “a man of integrity and character.”

The onetime shadow senator for the District of Columbia tied Apple’s fight back to the government’s surveillance overreach during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“I recall the FBI wiretapping of Dr. King and the civil rights and black movements and organizations,” said Jackson, who served as an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. “We cannot go down this path again.”

“Yes, we oppose terrorism – terrorism, both domestic and global – and we mourn the loss of life from the deadly assault unfolded in San Bernardino,” he said. “But we oppose the unprecedented government overreach that threatens the civil liberties of all Americans.”

Apple has not received such universal praise on Capitol Hill.

While a vocal group of civil libertarians and tech-focused lawmakers have strongly defended the tech giant’s decision, a bipartisan coalition of policymakers has called on the company to comply. Many want Congress to step in and take the issue out of the court’s hands.

Apple on Thursday officially filed its motion to reject the FBI’s court order. A hearing is scheduled for next month.