Tim Cook: FBI demands are both hard and wrong


Tim Cook's office David Muir interview ABC News
Tim Cook will make the company's case for encryption to ABC News this evening.
Photo: ABC News/"World News Tonight with David Muir"

If you can’t wait to see Apple CEO Tim Cook’s talk with ABC News anchor David Muir in a few hours, the network has released a couple of interesting previews ahead of the airing.

In them, Cook addresses both the difficulty of the company’s refusal to the FBI’s demands to unlock a terrorist’s phone and his less-than-satisfactory dealings with the Obama administration and the Justice Department.

Check out the clips below.

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In the first excerpt, Muir asks Cook about Apple’s justification for not cooperating to help authorities bypass the password lock on a phone used by San Bernardino assailant Syed Farook. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and wounded 22 others in an attack last December, and the FBI and Justice Department are demanding that Apple comply with a court order requiring them to assist in the investigation.

“To some people listening to this argument who understand where you’re coming from, who might say this was a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and if ever there was a case that Apple might make an exception, that this might be that moment,” Muir asks. “Do you really want to plant the flag on privacy and safety on Sayed Farook’s iPhone?”

“The protection of people’s data is incredibly important,” Cook replies. “And so the tradeoff here is, we know that [assisting the FBI] could expose people to incredible vulnerabilities. This is not something we would create. This would be bad for America and set a precedent that many people in America would be offended by.”

Muir follows up by asking if Cook suspects he “might be able to prevent a terrorist attack” by cracking the phone.

“David, some things are hard,” Cook responds. “And some things are wrong. And some things are both. This is one of those things.”

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The second clip has Muir and Cook discussing the government’s actions in this case, including the “swift action” from the Justice Department.

“We found out about the filing from the press,” Cook says. “And I don’t think that’s the way the railroad should be run.”

The full, exclusive interview will air on ABC World News Tonight this evening at 6:30 ET. An extended version will appear on ABC News’ website immediately afterward.

  • Jonathan R Wegner

    Where was this shot? And is that a black MacBook in the background?

    • Alex S-r

      yeah, I rly hope that is a new rmbp!

  • dunkoh

    You don’t have the quote correct – “some things are hard, and some things are right…”

  • AllanC

    I think Apple is overreacting to this issue. First, there is no constitutional right to privacy. Second, we have a right to be free of search and seizure only in the absence of a warrant supported by probable cause. While there have been some notable exceptions, I haven’t heard of many cases where the courts, which issue warrants, just hand them out willy-nilly to any cop who asks for one. Criminals and terrorists should not get a free pass. Law enforcement needs the authority to seize and search the phones upon a showing of probable cause and the issuance of a warrant. I suspect Congress will resolve this issue for Apple.

    • warcaster

      90% of requested warrants are approved. And law enforcement do abuse the law and bypass judges many times. Read up on Stingrays and how they spy on thousands at a time even without warrants. You’re putting too much faith in the government to do the right thing.

      And it’s not just a privacy issue, but also a security one. There’s no such thing as “balance” in security. There is only security that is flawed (yes, all security is flawed – nothing is unhackable). Hackers and the government want to take advantage of those flaws whenever they find them. But it’s Apple’s responsibility to keep on improving that security and fixing those flaws to protect its users, which means both hackers and law enforcement will be slowed down or stopped from accessing those devices.