Tim Cook: Apple Won't Create 'Backdoor' to Help FBI Access San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacRumors, Feb 17, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple CEO Tim Cook has posted an open letter to Apple customers announcing that the company would oppose an order from a U.S. Federal judge to help the FBI access data on an iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Cook says that this moment is one for public discussion, and that the company wants its customers to understand what's at stake.


    Cook starts the letter noting that smartphones have become an essential part of people's lives and that many people store private conversations, photos, music, notes, calendars and both financial and health information on their devices. Ultimately, Cook says, encryption helps keep people's data safe, which in turn keeps people's personal safety from being at risk.

    He then goes on to say that Apple and its employees were "shocked and outraged" by the San Bernardino attack and that Apple has complied with valid subpoenas and search warrants from federal investigators. Apple has also made engineers available to advise the FBI in addition to providing general advice on how they could go about investigating the case. However, Cook says that's where Apple will draw the line.
    Cook says that while the government is suggesting that bypassing a feature that disables an iPhone after a certain number of failed password attempts could only be used once and on one device, that suggestion is "simply not true." He says that once created, such a key could be used over and over again. "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," Cook says.

    The move, Cook says, would undermine Apple's decades of work on security advancements that keep its customers safe. He notes the irony in asking Apple's security engineers to purposefully weaken the protections they created. Apple says they found no precedent of an American company being forced to expose its customers, therefore putting them at a greater risk of attack. He notes that security experts have warned against weakening encryption as both bad guys and good guys would be able to take advantage of any potential weaknesses.

    Finally, Cook says that the FBI is proposing what Apple calls an "unprecedented use" of the All Writs Act of 1789, which authorizes federal courts to issue all orders necessary or appropriate "in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law." The chilling effect of this use, Cook argues, would allow the government power to capture data from any device or to require Apple to create a data collection program to intercept a customer's data, potentially including infringements like using a phone's camera or microphone without user knowledge.

    Cook concludes Apple's open letter by saying the company's opposition to the order is not an action they took lightly and that they challenge the request "with the deepest respect for democracy and a love for our country." Ultimately, Apple fears these demands would "undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect."

    Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

    Article Link: Tim Cook: Apple Won't Create 'Backdoor' to Help FBI Access San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone
  2. farewelwilliams, Feb 17, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016

    farewelwilliams macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2014
    an then Tim Cook ends the letter with:
    - Sent from my iPad Pro
  3. ToroidalZeus, Feb 17, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016

    ToroidalZeus macrumors 68020


    Dec 8, 2009
    I have a feeling the FBI has been waiting for something like the San Bernardino situation to bring up a lawsuit against Apple. We have known for years (thanks Snowden) that that FBI has been frustrated with the security on the iPhone. Now they finally got their chance to force Apple to create a backdoor.

    This will most likely end up being a Supreme Court court. From a business POV, I don't think Apple could ever comply with this demand. The bad publicity around "Apple creates backdoor for the FBI" could easily destroy their sales. I don't know if the FBI is going to fine Tim Cook or sentence him to prison, idk, but he really really cannot comply with this demand. It's just too damaging to Apple.
  4. Bentron macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2008
    Good to hear! Regardless of the circumstances, it would be a very dangerous precedent to set.
  5. darkknight14 macrumors 6502


    Apr 18, 2011
    Tim Cook is 100% right, and even more right when he says the FBI/Government will 'word this differently'.

    Privacy will always be one way!
  6. AliMacs, Feb 17, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2016

    AliMacs macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2014
    If Apple stands by this and defies the US govt enforcing some old ******** law on apple forcing a backdoor to be made, I'll be one of the many who will LINE UP for an iPhone 7.

    It is the principals behind this defiance that has me sold. A company that will fight for my right to privacy is a company I am happy to support. I will rid my android device and buy an iPhone 7 just because I know my data is secured even the almighty US government cannot access.

    Tim Cook has my vote for man of the year 2016.
  7. trife macrumors 6502


    Apr 16, 2012
    Props to Tim and the folks at Apple for taking a stand. I'm glad to see this.

    This All Writs Act sounds like the Patriot Act's bigger brother. Scary.
  8. scaramoosh macrumors 6502a

    Nov 30, 2014
    This is a battle they will lose, proving someone committed a crime is more important.
  9. cableguy84 macrumors 65816


    Sep 7, 2015
    I actually agree with Cook on something for the first time
  10. Ramius macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2008
    As a european I find it scary that if this were to happen. This would affect the security of iPhone owners not just in the US, which is where FBI has jurisdiction. But in the entire world.

    This would give the FBI the tools to break into the personal data of people from all over the world. In other words if the american government can direct Apple to do anything, it will have global ramifications. And it almost feel like the rest of us, outside the US, don´t have a say in the matter at all.

    I dont think the UN would be approving of such an order.
  11. ZacNicholson macrumors 6502a


    Jun 25, 2011
    I love that apple is doing this. Why risk a backdoor exploit that a hacker could abuse?
  12. BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2007
    On The Interweb Thingy!
  13. Robstevo macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2014
    Absolutely the right response and a fantastic letter to deal with the situation. Apple are on fire when it comes to customer support these days (see me iPad thread), which is the reason why I will be moving for good to an iPhone.
  14. Dreamer2go macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2007
    I'm from Hong Kong/China. If the US government can't get pass an iPhone, then I'm more relieved to know that (maybe) the Chinese government can't lol.
    Support Apple for this!
  15. CmdrLaForge, Feb 17, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016

    CmdrLaForge macrumors 601


    Feb 26, 2003
    around the world
    Sorry Tim , I think you draw the wrong line. Supporting terrorism is just plain wrong. Any righteous person has nothing to hide from the government.

    As far as I understood the FBI needs access to just this phone. I think Apple blew this for marketing reasons entirely out of proportion. If they (Apple) are able to access the data on that phone they should just help the FBI in a way that this is a one time only event. The FBI can deliver this phone to apple and they could have pulled the data off the phone in one of their secret labs and then hand back the phone and separately the data. No need to give the FBI a general key.

    To quote the article:
  16. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    I love how he begins the body of the letter with “Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives.” I guess he could not resist.
  17. Col4bin, Feb 17, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016

    Col4bin macrumors 68000


    Oct 2, 2011
    El Segundo
    Apple, champions of terrorists everywhere.

    Stay strong Tim!
  18. JustMartin macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2012
    Sadly, I am resigned to the fact that the British Government are quite prepared to give whatever they can find out about me to the FBI or any other US organisation that asks. It's what they call a 'special relationship'
  19. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Great of TC to take a stand on this. Ballsy and inspirational. I have a feeling this is the beginning of a storm. The government would love to have backdoor access to any device, and hopefully this open discussion would cause a public backlash if they were to try and push any laws through.
  20. djcerla macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2015
    Eric Schmidt to FBI requesting Android backdoors:

    "mi casa es tu casa!"
  21. vannibombonato macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2007
    Where is the limit?
    If creating a backdoor meant avoiding another 9/11, what would be the right thing to do?

    I think the mania for "privacy" has gone way beyond common sense: until 10 years ago we were all happily storing our personal info in our houses, in paper, and no one was seriously worrying about someone sneaking in our houses to look at our family pictures, love letters or -oh my God!- our weight.
    We too often forget that in 99.99% of the cases NO ONE COULD CARE LESS about our oh-so-precious pictures, messages, etc. There is quite simply nothing to protect, our personal info are valuable only to ourselves.
    "Just" give me a common password for all my info/website, and if someones steals my device, big deal, let me make a call and block all access. End of story.
  22. lionsy macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2010
    England, UK
    Much respect to Tim for this response, I hope politicians all over the world take note.reminds me of the flash open letter by Jobs, hopefully it'll get as much coverage and impact.
  23. Mac Rules macrumors 6502

    Mac Rules

    Jul 15, 2006
    The only way that analogy is valid is if the police/FBI/NSA/GCHQ/etc had a master key (gained without your permission) to your house to snoop around whenever they felt like it without giving you any notice or reason.

    It doesn't matter what value YOU place on that information, be it physical or digital, to someone else it may be priceless.
  24. CmdrLaForge, Feb 17, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016

    CmdrLaForge macrumors 601


    Feb 26, 2003
    around the world
    Fantastic Apple..now you become the preferred communication supplier for terrorists.

    Again - I think there is no need for a generic back door key for the FBI or any other authority. Once a federal agency has physical access to a suspects phone and they do have a legal warrant from a judge to search this Apple should support the authorities by access the data on their site and handing back data and phone as separate entities without giving a generic key.
  25. Piggie macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    It's tricky I know.
    Of course, like everyone here I am all for privacy.

    On the other hand, those here saying how much they support this.
    If they had just had photo's sent to them of their 8 year old daughter raped, and being told she is being held until killed, I wonder how much these same people would say, YES these people should be protected by Apple.

    It's a tricky one, that's easy to say when it's not you that's affected.

    Would america back Apple if America was under threat.... I suspect not.

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