Apple CEO Tim Cook this week appeared on ABC News where he laid out in precise detail exactly why Apple is refusing to comply with a court order that would have the company help the FBI hack into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.
The crux of Apple's position, as relayed by Cook, is that helping the FBI in this particular instance would only open the door to even more government requests. With such a precedent in place, Cook believes that the software tool the FBI wants Apple to develop will inevitably be used for nefarious purposes.
“Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices," Cook explained in an open letter published last week.
Indeed, Cook during his ABC interview emphasized that if Apple agrees to do what the FBI wants, it would put the privacy of every iOS user around the world at risk.
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"I think safety of the public is incredibly important," Cook said while speaking to David Muir. "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.”
While the FBI has come out and said that the scope of what they want is very narrow, recent reports have indicated that the Justice Department already wants Apple's help in unlocking nine additional iPhones nationwide.
The New York Times adds:
Because a number of the newly disclosed cases remain sealed, Apple’s letter did not describe the types of crimes at issue. But they appear to involve run-of-the-mill prosecutions for offenses like drug trafficking and pornography, rather than a high-profile terrorism investigation, officials said.
The newly disclosed cases are in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston.
Apple is reportedly prepared to take this case to the Supreme Court if necessary, a point underscored by Cook's remarks that the FBI wants Apple to "to write a piece of software that we view as sort of the software equivalent of cancer."
From Apple's vantage point, the current debate over encryption is much broader than the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5c. On the contrary, Apple believes that this case will have far-reaching and perhaps "chilling consequences."
To this point, Cook said that if a court can demand that Apple write a piece of specially tailored software, what's to stop them from writing specialized software designed to spy on users.
Cook's full interview is about 30 minutes long and presents Apple's point of view in a clear and concise manner. Whether or not you side with Apple or the FBI, it's crucial to be familiar with the arguments on both sides of this extremely complex and controversial issue.