Tim Cook Responds To FBI iPhone Backdoor Court Order

17 February 2016

Tim Cook:

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

Tim Cook holds back no punches in this letter, you can quote every paragraph and feel Apple’s fierce stance of opposition. It’s imbued with anger in a way I haven’t seen with any previous Apple PR communication. Apple, and Tim Cook, is serious on this.

I don’t really care whether an iPhone is built to be private or not. I’m indifferent — I like the idea of privacy but I rank other features of the device above security. Right now, Apple makes choices that make iOS features worse for the sake of additional privacy. I don’t like that, but Apple has made their choice. It’s too far gone, the company can’t back down now even if it wanted too. They are committed to fight governments across the world on customer privacy, likely for years to come. Whether they succeed or not, they are firmly embroiled in a huge controversy of national security. Numerous court cases to follow.

Apple versus the world. Customers may side with Apple, but I’m not sure many other tech companies will. Google perhaps, but no other big tech company has the same incentives to attack this issue as Apple does. Long term, I think the only outcome is that Apple will have to bend to the will of government. If the governments wants a backdoor, it will get one. The reason Apple has made this letter public (with extreme urgency) is because it knows the only way for it to win is to change public opinion and force this through as a political contention.