Apple’s privacy fight with FBI could land Tim Cook in jail


iPhone 6s
And all this over one iPhone!
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

With Apple not yet willing to accept court orders to unlock the iPhone at the center of the San Bernardino shooing case, legal experts are weighing in on what penalties the company (and, conceivably, Tim Cook) may face if the parties involved refuse to do so.

The answer? Anything from some pretty big fines to jail-time for Apple’s CEO.

According to attorney Peter Fu, if Apple is found to have broken the all-important “All Writs Act,” fines could stretch from hundreds of thousands of dollars right the way up to millions. “The problem in this case is that there’s just no clear precedent. Estimating possible penalties is difficult because it will be largely up to the discretion of the court,” Fu says.

One possible comparison may be a previous case in which the government threatened to fine Yahoo upwards of $250,000 per day if it refused to surrender user data to the National Security Agency. This daily fine was set to double each week Yahoo refused to comply.

Fu says another scenario could be that, as Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook actually spends time in jail — although this highly unlikely to occur. Stephen Vladeck, an expert on national security law at American University, told Quartz today that Apple’s status as a corporation means that, in his view, Cook himself would not be liable for a contempt charge.

As of now, the FBI/Apple case is set to be heard again on March 22, after which it will be transferred to another district court judge if Apple or the government is unhappy with the verdict.

One thing that’s for sure is that we’re pretty darn far from a conclusion to this issue — however the involved parties decide in the short-term.

Source: Fast Company and Quartz

  • aardman

    Silly, sensationalist, click-baiting bunk. Tim Cook has already said they will abide by the final judgement of the SCOTUS if it comes to that. This what-if speculation of an imagined martyrdom-seeking CEO is the kind of rubbish that sends AAPL into periodic irrational panic-driven spasms.

  • Agreeing with the other comment here, but also pointing out the silly caption on the photo “And all this over one iPhone!” If you had been following any of this news, which I hope you have if you’re going to publish news yourself… you would know that this is quite the opposite. In fact, a huge point of this controversy is that it is *not* just about a single phone.

    • Luke Dormehl

      It was a facetious headline, based on the fact that this clearly *isn’t* about one iPhone. Check out some of the other pieces I’ve written questioning the degree to which this sets a dangerous precedent.

  • 2oh1

    OOH OOH, BIG SHOCKER HEADLINE! (…and then come back down to reality in parenthesis afterwords, reminding people that the headline was clickbait).

  • Undivided

    He belongs in jail.

    • digitaldumdum

      If you think Tim Cook belongs in jail for his stand over personal privacy, I wonder what in the world you’re doing on this thread, or, for that matter, this entire site. Then again, you might either be an FBI troll, or actually live in a country where such freedoms are unavailable, and can’t appreciate our privileges.

      In any case, if Tim Cook had to go to jail, I believe he would go willingly, not only to protect Apple users’ security but yours as well, whether •you• recognize the importance or not.

    • #Hillary4Prison2016

      So does Hillary Clinton. She should go before anyone else.

  • Barry Marshall

    Ya but it won’t be a normal jail. It will be one that you can play your regular 18 holes of golf and still meet at the 19th for a bevy or two.