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.
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.