In an interview with ABC News anchor David Muir, Apple CEO Tim Cook explaining the company’s decision to oppose the court order in unlocking the iPhone 5c of Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attack that occurred in December last year.
During the interview, Cook said that the brute force tool required by FBI is “the software equivalent of cancer” that can potentially put millions of iPhones and other iOS devices out there at risk.
The only way to get information – at least currently, 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. And that is what is at stake here.
He went on to say that the fulfilling the FBI’s request could set a precedent that eventually leads to weaker smartphone encryption. “If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write,” said Cook. “I don’t know where this stops. But I do know this is not what should be happening in this country.”
Cook says Apple has cooperated fully with the FBI, giving all of the information that it could provide. He said opposing the government “doesn’t feel right” and that it’s a “very uncomfortable position.” He also expressed deep sympathy for the families impacted by the attack and said he wished the FBI had contacted Apple before changing the Apple ID password on the phone, making it impossible to get an additional iCloud backup. According to Cook, Apple first heard about the FBI’s initial filing from the press.
“We gave everything we had. We don’t know that there’s any information on the phone. We don’t know whether there is or there isn’t. And the FBI doesn’t know. What we do know is we passed all of the information that we have on the phone and to get additional information on it or at least what the FBI would like us to do now would expose hundreds of millions of people to issues”.
Cook further says that smartphones carry very intimate and key data about their owners, including banking passwords and even the location of their kids, and no one would want this data to be leaked. He also says that this is a “slippery slope” and that even if Apple does unlock Farook’s iPhone 5c in a perfect world, other government agencies will then also start pressuring Apple to unlock other iPhones that they have in their possession.
Surprisingly, Cook revealed in the interview that he came to know about the filing from the public, which is not how such a sensitive matter should be handled.
Tim Cook: the software the FBI wants would be “the equivalent of cancer”