A new book out this month details how Apple’s CEO Tim Cook “bet the company” on fighting the FBI order to create a backdoor on iPhones and iPads for law enforcement agencies.
One of the most widely covered and hotly debated technology stories in the past few years was the public clash between Apple and the FBI after the tragic San Bernardino terrorist attack. Seen as a battle between two goliaths — one from the private, the other from the public sector — this case promised to be long-drawn and divisive. Both sides of the fence made impassioned arguments; one for privacy, the other for national security.
It started with the FBI needing to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Syed Rizwan Farook, as the iPhone, running iOS 9, was built with default device encryption.
The FBI wanted a software update that would disable the feature that wipes the phone after nine failed attempts as well as the time delays in between failed attempts.
Now, a new book titled “Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level“ by Leander Kahney highlights how Cook led from the front and ensured that Apple was not forced to create said backdoor, reads a report from TechCrunch.
Apple’s former general counsel Bruce Sewell, who retired in 2017, is quoted as saying that there was “a lot of activity” the took place before the public legal battle over the San Bernardino iPhone in 2016:
Sewell said the FBI has as early as 2014 asked Apple for “getting access to phones on a mass basis” after Apple rolled out iOS 8, which encrypted iPhones and iPads with a passcode. Law enforcement struggled to get into devices they said was necessary to investigate crimes. There was no other feasible way to break into an iPhone — even with a court order. Not even Apple could unlock the devices. The company declined the FBI’s request.
According to the book, the FBI saw the case as a way to “force Apple’s hand,” using the tragedy and public matter of the situation:
“There was a sense at the FBI that this was the perfect storm,” said Sewell, as quoted. “We now have a tragic situation. We have a phone. We have a dead assailant. This is the time that we’re going to push it. And that’s when the FBI decided to file [the order],” he said.
Apple’s One Infinite Loop campus apparently “turned into a 24/7 situation room,” with the company fielding questions from the press — a move that Apple had rarely done before. Ultimately, right before the day was set to go to trial, the FBI withdrew its case against Apple as a third-party was able to access the device.
“Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level” goes on sale April 16th and is available on Amazon.ca.