Tim Cook: FBI Is Asking Apple For Something Too Dangerous To Create
Tim Cook has a message for the Federal Bureau of Investigation: Back off.
"Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation," Cook wrote. "In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession."
Cook said the company has used an encryption to protect its customers' personal data, as that's the only way Apple believes that personal information can be safe: "the contents of your iPhone are none of our business."
FBI Court Order
The court order that Cook is referring to in the letter comes from a judge in California, who on Tuesday ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the attackers in the assault in San Bernardino that killed 14 people in December. In a court filing, prosecutors said Apple had the means to bypass the security features on the phone, but that the company had "declined to provide that assistance voluntarily."
"The ruling handed the FBI. a potentially important victory in its long-running battle with Apple and other Silicon Valley companies over the government's ability to get access to encrypted data in investigations," the New York Times reported. "Apple has maintained that requiring it to provide the "keys" to its technology would compromise the security of the information of hundreds of millions of users."
Cook said the FBI's request sets a "dangerous precedent" and is asking Apple to build "something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone."
"In today's digital world, the "key" to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.
The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that's simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable."
The New York Times on Wednesday said that this isn't the first time "Apple has tussled with the FBI over whether it should create tools to de-encrypt its hardware. The FBI's director, James B. Comey, has stated in the past that some of the bureau's cases ran the risk of 'going dark' if technology companies like Apple stood by their strong encryption standards."
Apple shares closed Tuesday at $96.56.
— Benzinga.com (@Benzinga) February 17, 2016
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