Apple CEO on ABC News: Creating Software Enabling the FBI to Unlock an iPhone is Software Equivalent of Cancer
In the extended interview segment between Apple's CEO and ABC we hear Tim Cook deliver a rather shocking statement. In an exclusive interview with ABC News today, Apple CEO Tim Cook told "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir that what the U.S. government was asking of the tech giant -- to essentially create software enabling the FBI to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters -- amounted to the "software equivalent of cancer."
It should be noted that the ABC interview above covers many arguments that are not covered in the few highlights that are presented below - so don't miss to watch the full video if this subject matter is important to you.
"The only way to get information -- at least currently, the only way we know -- would be to write a piece of software that we view as sort of the equivalent of cancer. We think it's bad news to write. We would never write it. We have never written it -- and that is what is at stake here," he said. "We believe that is a very dangerous operating system."
"If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write -- maybe it's an operating system for surveillance, maybe the ability for the law enforcement to turn on the camera," Cook said. "I don't know where this stops. But I do know that this is not what should be happening in this country."
Cook told ABC News today that Apple had cooperated fully with the FBI.
"We gave everything that we had," he told Muir today. "We don't know that there's any information on the phone. We don't know whether there is or there isn't. And the FBI doesn't know. ... What we do know is we passed all of the information that we have on the phone and to get additional information on it or at least what the FBI would like us to do now would expose hundreds of millions of people to issues."
Cook said that the issue was not just about privacy, but also about the public's safety.
"This case is not about one phone," Cook said today. "This case is about the future. ... If we knew a way to get the information on the phone -- that we haven't already given -- if we knew a way to do this, that would not expose hundreds of millions of other people to issues, we would obviously do it. ... Our job is to protect our customers."
At the end of the interview after talking about privacy and security for customers, Tim Cook admitted that if Congress were to pass clear new laws directing technology companies to assist the government in specific cases. then Apple would obey the law.
Cook specifically stated that "if there's going to be a law, then it should be done out in the open for people so their voices are heard from their representatives from congress." Muir then asked Cook, "And if Congress decided that there's this small category, this was a terrorist's iPhone, if Congress decided that, the American people signed off on that, you'd entertain it? Cook: "Let me clear. At the end of the day, we have to follow the law. Just like everybody else. So we have to follow the law."
Cook added that "What is going on right now, is we're having our voices be heard. And I would encourage everyone that has a voice, or wants to have a voice, wants to have an opinion, make sure their voice is heard.
The U.S. Attorney General Weighs in on the Matter
Earlier today Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that law enforcement's "mission to protect public safety" is threatened by ongoing legal disputes over whether tech companies are required to assist government investigators in breaking into the encrypted communications of their customers.
In her testimony before the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday, Lynch didn't mention Apple or the legal fight over a judge's order that the company help the FBI break into an iPhone used by one of the terrorists who carried out the San Bernardino attack. But she noted the issue of suspects under investigation "going dark" was no longer "a theoretical issue."
"It's a long-standing principle in our justice system that if an independent judge finds reason to believe that a certain item contains evidence of a crime, then that judge can authorize the government to conduct a limited search for that evidence," Lynch told lawmakers.
"And if the government needs the assistance of third parties to ensure that search is actually conducted, judges all over the country and on the Supreme Court have said that those parties must assist if it is reasonably within their power to do so," she said.