Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook says his company will fight a federal magistrate’s order to help the FBI hack into an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino, California shooters. The company said that could potentially undermine encryption for millions of other users.
Using strong language, federal prosecutors claimed:
–That Apple can easily help the government unlock a terrorist’s iPhonewithout undermining anyone else’s privacy.
–That Apple is exaggerating what the court order demands. “The order does not, as Apple’s public statement alleges, require Apple to create or provide a ‘back door’ to every iPhone,” the filing said. “It does not provide ‘hackers and criminals’ access to iPhones.”
Senior Apple executives, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Friday’s government motion was redundant and aimed at applying more public pressure on the company so that it would give in.
The executives said they had no intention of backing down, reiterating that their position was in the best interest of Apple customers and the country.
One of the executives said Friday that the government’s request for software to change the iPhone’s operating system would take the company several weeks or months to develop and validate. It would not involve a mere matter of hours or days, he said.
The clash reflects wider debates in the United States and elsewhere over security measures used by companies to protect users of devices such as smartphones — and how much leverage authorities should have to gain special access.
“We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a strongly worded open letter posted late Tuesday on the company’s website.
“Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them,” it continued. “But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”