The Apple Inc. versus the FBI encryption war is getting more and more complex with each passing day. In an exclusive interview with ABC News on Wednesday, CEO Tim Cook said that the government is asking it to develop software to break into the iPhone obtained from one of the San Bernardino shooters and that such software is the “equivalent of cancer.”
Apple CEO: it’s a “complex” issue
Apple has been asked by the FBI to assist in hacking the iPhone of Syed Farook, who, with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and injured 22 others in a mass shooting in December. The FBI made efforts to crack it, but Apple’s security systems automatically erase the access key and makes the phone “permanently inaccessible” after 10 failed attempts.
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Apple has been refusing to assist the FBI from the start and has even vowed to fight the order, thus sparking the fight between federal authorities and Silicon Valley. Speaking to ABC News, Cook termed the issue “complex” but said that such a software will risk the privacy of millions of customers and “trample” civil liberties.
“If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write — maybe it’s an operating system for surveillance, maybe the ability for the law enforcement to turn on the camera,” Cook said. “I don’t know where this stops. But I do know that this is not what should be happening in this country.”
We “gave everything we had”
Cook told ABC News that they fully cooperated with the FBI, and “gave everything that we had” on the phone. Cook said the company has no idea if there is any information on it or not.
Last week, Cook said Apple will never design the so-called backdoor which could unlock any iPhone and not just the one belonging to the San Bernardino shooter. Apple’s stance in the case has been applauded by many big names inSilicon Valley, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum.
Earlier this week, FBI director James Comey, in an open letter, requested that Apple comply with the court orders. Comey said that the FBI wants to guess the phone’s passcode without making the phone self-destruct. Comey acknowledged that the case does highlight the marginal difference between security and privacy.