Tim Cook: FBI’s Backdoor Would Be ‘Software Equivalent of Cancer’

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Apple CEO Tim Cook today spoke with ABC News anchor David Muir, explaining Apple’s decision to object to the court order that would require it to help the FBI break into the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December attack in San Bernardino, California.

In the interview, Cook reiterated much of what he wrote in the open letter where he announced Apple’s plans to stand against the government and oppose the order to create a backdoor into iOS devices.

According to Cook, the software the FBI wants to use to brute force the passcode on Farook’s iPhone would be “the equivalent of cancer” that has the potential to put hundreds of millions of Apple’s customers at risk. In the interview, Cook said:

“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. Cook said:

”If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write. 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 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.


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Cook explained that Apple is not just protecting the data on one phone, it’s protecting the data on the devices of all of its customers.

A software engineer with a passion for creation and innovation using technology. To learn more about me, check out my personal website, which contains links to my projects. Email: nick@iphoneincanada.ca

  • I agree with Tim Cook 100% offering assistance, and helping out with anything the FBI asks is great and everyone should do it.
    However, ordering them to build back doors because the FBI screwed up, and have the ability to dip into any information at anytime they want via this door has some serious privacy concerns and shouldn’t be allowed.

  • iFone

    So, what he’s saying about iCloud back-up is that anyone can access the information there (with a court order or hack) but if it is on my phone not?? Many people back-up their phones to icloud so there goes our privacy rights. What’s the big deal anyway?

  • Nick

    The big deal is that creating a master key that can unlock any iphone is bad for everyone. Once it exists, it can be replicated, or stolen by anyone with that has the ability. And that doesn’t even factor in the government, who already has surveillance on its people,to be able to go into your phone and look at all your personal information any time they want. It’s terrible on a global scale. Do you really need to government to see your dic pics? Youtube John Olivers interview with Snowden.

  • Kirk

    Backing up to iCloud is a right we have, but not something that’s mandatory. If I decide to iTunes back up then it doesn’t go to the iCloud. At the end of the day, this problem steals any possible protection you’ll ever have on your device. I agree with Tim 1000%

  • Kirk

    He is right. It’s just going to turn into one massive snow ball if the FBI is allowed to do this. That reporter kept asking Tim the same questions over and over again, just twisting it around a bit.