February 17, 2016—Tim Cook, published a customer letter explaining why Apple does not want to comply with the federal government’s latest request. According to the Apple CEO, the US government wants his company to build a backdoor to the iPhone, creating a dangerous system that would jeopardize the privacy of Apple consumers.
He starts the letter by explaining that the “United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.” Claiming that the order has implications that go further than the legal case at hand, namely the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Cook uses his letter to explain the importance of privacy, and how it plays a major role in the lives of iPhone users.
“Smartphones,” he writes, “have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.”
“All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.
Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.
For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) agrees. In a post on his official Facebook page, Massie shared Cook’s letter explaining that when backdoors are created and third parties have access to their private data, everyone is at risk.
Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who alerted America about NSA’s surveillance programs targeting innocent Americans also did his part to support Tim Cook’s decision to stand up to the federal government.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) also voiced his opposition to the US request. According to the Michigan conservative, the government’s unconstitutional demand undermines our safety.
Once Cooks’s letter and his concerns became popular on social media, however, the government promptly claimed it had never requested what Cook claims they did.
The Internet did not let that opportunity go to waste.
In the customer letter, the executive explains that Apple has already given the FBI’s access to the terrorists’ phones. He writes:
“When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.”
He also says that what the FBI now wants is for Apple to create a new version of the iPhone with an open backdoor so surveillance teams have access to the data:
“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. In the wrong hands, this software—which does not exist today—would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”
That means the federal government is either ignoring that their request could be used in other phones or completely oblivious of the consequences of their request.
While Apple’s stand against government’s request is heroic, many believe that it won’t stop the CIA and NSA.
Which organization will win this privacy battle, Apple or the US Government? Let us know what you think!