Apple has posted an open letter, signed by Tim Cook, in response to the FBI’s request that Apple unlock the iPhone at the center of a San Bernardino court case.
While United States magistrated judge Sheri Pym wants Apple to hand the FBI a custom firmware file that would allow the unlocking of the handset in question, Apple argues that this represents an, “unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.”
And Cook wants the public to be aware of all the details.
“This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake,” Cook writes. He goes on to argue that, “We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack.”
Cook’s entire letter (which is well-worth reading) can be seen here. He writes that, while Apple will willingly help with investigations up to a point, it draws the line at creating a backdoor for devices:
“When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.
We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”
This is something that Cook ends the letter by equating to the FBI undermining, “the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”
This is far from the first time Apple has clashed with governments around the world over the issue of encryption. In a previous open letter from FBI director James Comey, the FBI boss argued that iPhone encryption has the potential to aid terrorist groups like ISIS.
“None of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information. This is a basic human right. We all have a right to privacy. We shouldn’t give it up. We shouldn’t give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally don’t understand the details.”
Recently, Apple has also clashed with the U.K. government over its so-called “snooper’s charter,” suggesting that making companies create backdoors for encryption services like iMessage could “hurt law-abiding citizens.”
Who do you side with in this case, and why? Leave your comments below.