Apple CEO Tim Cook has today sat down with ABC’s David Muir to talk about the company’s battle with the FBI. Last week, a California court requested that Apple unlock an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino gunmen in December. Cook replied to the request with a letter on Apple’s homepage, saying that Apple did not want to create the tool that would be required to unlock the device. In his interview with Muir, Cook elaborated on the company’s decision…
Cook was first asked about Apple’s communication with the Obama Administration regarding the Justice Department’s request. He noted that, relating to this specific case, there was almost no communication between the government and Apple. “We actually found out about the filing from the press,” Cook said. “And I don’t think that something so important to this country should be handled that way.”
Muir then pressed Cook to dive deeper into the company’s reasoning for siding with protecting user security versus potentially protecting national security. Muir pointed out that many people see the San Bernardino attacks as a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, making it hard for them to side with Apple on the issue. Cook explained, however, that he believes it would “be bad for America” to set a precedent where user data is compromised to potentially expose something that “might be there.”
I think safety of the public is incredibly important. Safety of our kids, safety of our families is very important. The protection of people’s data is incredibly important and so the tradeoff here is that we know that doing this could expose people to incredible vulnerabilities. This is not something that we would create. This would be bad for America and it would also set a precedent that I believe many people in America would be offended by. And so when you think about those which are knowns, compared to something that might be there, I believe we are making the right choice.
Some things are hard, somethings are right. Some things are both. This is one of those things.
To further get across Apple’s view on just how dangerous writing a tool to access the data on the device could be, Cook explained that it would be the “software equivalent of cancer.”
“The only way we know would be to write a piece of software that we view as sort of the software equivalent of cancer. We think it’s bad news to write. We would never write it. We have never written it.”
Cook also noted that had county officials not reset the gunman’s Apple ID password, Apple might have been able to help. “I wish they would have contacted us earlier so that wouldn’t have been the case, it was a crucial misstep.”
The full interview can be seen below (Full YouTube upload coming soon).
Excerpt on YouTube…
Apple’s battle with the FBI over national security versus user privacy began last week and has since become one of the biggest and most complex stories in tech and politics. You can view all of our extensive coverage at the links below:
- U.S. judge orders Apple to help FBI access data on San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone 5c
- Apple publishes letter responding to FBI iPhone unlock demand: ‘an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers’
- Google CEO Pichai appears to side with Apple in series of vague tweets on FBI encryption battle
- Security firm shows how Apple could bypass iPhone security to comply with FBI request
- Opinion: How likely is Apple to succeed in resisting the FBI court order?
- Should Apple comply with FBI request to bypass San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone? [Poll]
- Civil rights groups and tech companies express support for Apple’s stand against the FBI
- Opinion: Why an iPhone master key is better than a backdoor, but still too dangerous
- Petition urges White House to support Apple in blocking government access to locked iPhones
- Senate Intelligence Committee considering bill to penalize companies refusing to decrypt user device
- Report: Apple to get more time to formally respond to government’s request for access to locked iPhone
- Apple/FBI fight looks destined to go all the way to the Supreme Court as more background is revealed
- Department of Justice files motion to force Apple to comply with FBI iPhone backdoor request
- Apple implies FBI screwup: iPhone Apple ID password changed in govt possession, backdoor unnecessary
- FBI explains why it changed Apple ID password in iPhone unlock case, retrieved iCloud backups up to October 19 but wants more
- San Bernardino victims divided on iPhone issue as FBI claims not trying to set a precedent
- Apple/FBI: Tim Cook sends memo to employees, wants government to drop All Writs Act demands, posts customer FAQ
- Mark Zuckerberg sides w/ Apple in encryption battle as poll suggests public supports FBI
- Report says DOJ seeking data from ‘about’ 12 other iPhones as Bill Gates sides with FBI
- Report: Apple to argue that encryption battle with FBI should be decided by Congress
- Bloomberg: Apple will argue that the digital signature it uses to validate code is protected as free speech