Apple CEO Tim Cook gave an exclusive interview with ABC anchor Dan Muir that aired last night on ABC News today and weighed in about a new federal court order that makes new demands on the iPhone maker.
During the interview, Cook shared his opinions about a federal magistrate on Tuesday ordering Apple to assist in the San Bernardino terrorist attack investigation by developing a new security software that gives the FBI a special backdoor to unlock the iPhone 5c used by one of the terrorists who killed 14 Americans on December 2nd.
Cook plans to resist the federal court order and likened the decision to weaken Apple’s software in the future to the “software equivalent of cancer” that could potentially compromise the security and privacy of hundred of millions of Apple customers as well as erode confidence in Apple’s products.
Writing a new software code for the FBI that bypasses security protections on the iPhone Lock screen could make Apple’s iOS software vulnerable to hackers while also establishing a new precedent about federal government interference with a corporation operating in the United States.
If the FBI is successful in court against Apple, the decision will weaken privacy laws and inspire other international governments including China’s to seek their own special back door status with Apple that could serve to undermine the security of all Apple users worldwide.
“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” Cook explained.
Earlier this week, Cook released a customer letter that said a dangerous precedent would be created should the government be successful in court and questioned if the U.S. government would use their backdoor to create other capabilities for surveillance purposes, such as recording conversations or location tracking?
Law enforcement agents around the country have already said they have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the FBI wins their case in court.
Cook has called for the U.S. government to withdraw its court order demands based on the All Writs Act of 1789 and instead form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology, and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy, and personal freedoms.
*Although I’m sympathetic to the victims families of the San Bernardino terrorist attack and by no means support the actions and privacy of terrorists, I fully support Apple’s decision to fight the federal court order and not weaken their iOS software by giving the Federal government a special back door access.
If the U.S. government is successful in court, it would be an overreach of major proportions and usher in a whole new era of government meddling in the private lives of Americans.
A Pandora’s Box of other issues will also emerge and the privacy and security of millions of American could be at risk in the future. The issue is much more complicated than simply unlocking the iPhone of one deceased terrorist.
I am not surprised that Donald Trump supports the federal government in this case and believe that his inflammatory comments encouraging Americans to boycott Apple are heavy handed and reckless.