Reports suggest that a testy back and forth between attorney general Loretta Lynch and Tim Cook occurred during a recent meeting between U.S. officials and representatives from numerous tech companies over encryption.
Tim Cook insists there are “no back doors”
In a recent meeting between executives of Dropbox, Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Cloudflare and Apple, it’s being reported that Tim Cook took exception to attorney general Lorreta Lynch’s suggestion that the companies need to find a balance between privacy and national security and that “back doors” should be built into encryption systems built by each company with Cook testily saying there are “no back doors.”
Notably absent from the meeting were numerous messaging companies like Snapchat that go out of their way to ensure that user messages are kept private and then deleted from their servers.
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This is not the first time that Cook has provoked the ire of government officials for Apple’s use of end-to-end encryption in its iMessage system.
“The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened – even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order – to me does not make any sense,” said FBI James Comey in late 2014. Comey also criticized the encryption that Google’s Android systems uses, but that’s kind of his job. Since, September 11th, the FBI has taken up the counter-terrorism mantle more than any law enforcement agency.
Tim Cook’s consistency comes as no surprise
In February of last year, Tim Cook spoke of the “dire consequences” that would come from opening Pandora’s box, or perhaps more accurately building a “back door” into a box that can’t be opened.
“Some in Washington are hoping to undermine the ability of ordinary citizens to encrypt their data. We think this is incredibly dangerous. If you put a key under the mat for the cops, a burglar can find it, too,” said Cook.
“Criminals are using every technology tool at their disposal to hack into people’s accounts. If they know there’s a key hidden somewhere, they won’t stop until they find it. Removing encryption tools from our products altogether, as some in Washington would like us to do, would only hurt law-abiding citizens who rely on us to protect their data.”
It’s a strong argument that unfortunately echoes the one used by uncompromising defenders of the 2nd Amendment like Wayne LaPierre.