Apple CEO Tim Cook: FBI's Backdoor Would Be 'Software Equivalent of Cancer'

Apple CEO Tim Cook today spoke with ABC News anchor David Muir, explaining Apple's decision to object to the court order that would require it to help the FBI break into the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December attack in San Bernardino, California.

In the interview, Cook reiterated much of what he wrote in the open letter where he announced Apple's plans to stand against the government and oppose the order to create a backdoor into iOS devices.

timcookabcinterview
According to Cook, the software the FBI wants to use to brute force the passcode on Farook's iPhone would be "the equivalent of cancer" that has the potential to put hundreds of millions of Apple's customers at risk.

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 software 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 went on to say that the fulfilling the FBI's request could set a precedent that eventually leads to weaker smartphone encryption. "If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write," said Cook. "I don't know where this stops. But I do know this is not what should be happening in this country."



Cook says Apple has cooperated fully with the FBI, giving all of the information that it could provide. He said opposing the government "doesn't feel right" and that it's a "very uncomfortable position." He also expressed deep sympathy for the families impacted by the attack and said he wished the FBI had contacted Apple before changing the Apple ID password on the phone, making it impossible to get an additional iCloud backup. According to Cook, Apple first heard about the FBI's initial filing from the press.

"We gave everything we had. 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 explained that Apple is not just protecting the data on one phone, it's protecting the data on the devices of all of its customers. He says if Apple knew a way to get the information on the phone that would not expose millions of customers to issues, the company would do it. "This is about the future," he said. "As people understand what is at stake here, an increasing number support us."

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.

Top Rated Comments

Brookzy Avatar
77 months ago
Could this be Apple's finest hour?

Practicing what they have preached for years, putting their money where their mouth is, risking a lot of bad publicity.

It would have been so easy to back down at the start.

I remember the criticism Cook and Apple got for being outspoken on social issues, especially around discrimination and equal marriage. The argument being a company should keep out of governance, and just do their thing. And such a short time later we see how vital outspoken companies now are: defending the public against government encroachment on civil liberties and triggering a global debate that will probably wind up in the supreme court.

Whatever your opinion, Apple and Cook's steadfast commitment has to be admired.
Score: 70 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
77 months ago
My grandma had cancer and I'm not offended. He's absolutely right, and it gets people's attention.
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
budselectjr Avatar
77 months ago
Hey Tim,

I have Stage IV Pancreatic cancer. Doubt it.

I think a more appropriate analogy would be something that can spread through contact/exposure. Maybe you are too sensitive to the mention of AIDS/HIV.
Your passive aggressive homophobic comment is worse.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
farewelwilliams Avatar
77 months ago
Jony Ive is the hardware equivalent of cancer...making the battery thinner and everything.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CalWizrd Avatar
77 months ago
Hey Tim,

I have Stage IV Pancreatic cancer. Doubt it.

I think a more appropriate analogy would be something that can spread through contact/exposure. Maybe you are too sensitive to the mention of AIDS/HIV.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
77 months ago
I don't know how anyone can watch this interview and think this is all marketing. Cook said Apple will take this to the Supreme Court if necessary. It's pretty sad that others in the tech community have been so weak in their support of Apple so far.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

airpodsinear 1

AirPods Save Woman's Life With Feature Everyone Should Know

Friday January 21, 2022 2:13 am PST by
Apple's AirPods have been credited with saving a woman's life after a potentially fatal fall, People reports. When a 60-year-old florist in New Jersey tripped and hit her head in her studio, she lost consciousness and awoke heavily bleeding. With nobody around to call for help, she realized she had her AirPods in, and used a "Hey Siri" command to call 911. An operator was able to stay on the ...
Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
top stories 2022jan22

Top Stories: Spring Apple Event Rumors, Apple Opposes Sideloading, and More

Saturday January 22, 2022 6:00 am PST by
As we roll into the latter half of January, we're starting to hear more about a potential spring Apple event, which is likely to take place in March or April. There are a number of potential announcements on deck, so an event would be a good opportunity for Apple to get them all out there. We've also been going back and forth on some iPhone 14 rumors, and we've taken a look at a number of...
att gigabit internet

AT&T Bringing $180/Month 5-Gigabit Internet to 70 Cities

Monday January 24, 2022 9:20 am PST by
AT&T today announced the launch of upgraded AT&T Fiber plans, which support speeds of up to 5 Gigabits for some customers. There are two separate plans, one "2 GIG" plan and one "5 GIG" plan, available to new and existing AT&T Fiber subscribers. According to AT&T, the new plans are available to nearly 5.2 million customers across 70 metro areas including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

Three Months After Launch, Apple Still Struggling to Meet Demand for Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Monday January 24, 2022 7:12 am PST by
Three months after their launch, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros continue to experience high demand and seemingly short supply, with shipping dates for both models stretching into multiple weeks in several of Apple's key markets. In the United States, the baseline 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip is estimated to ship in three to four weeks, promising an arrival by at least...
peloton tv workout cardio

Apple Floated as Potential Buyer of Peloton

Friday January 21, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Following months of bleak news about Peloton's "precarious state," including the revelation that it has halted production of its bikes and treadmills, Apple is being floated as a potential buyer of Peloton's troubled fitness business. Yesterday, CNBC reported that Peloton will temporarily stop production of its connected fitness products due to a "significant reduction" in consumer demand, a ...
Spring 2022 Apple Products Feature

New iPad Air, Macs, and iPhone SE With 5G Likely to Be Announced at Apple Event This Spring

Thursday January 20, 2022 8:32 am PST by
Earlier this week, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman tweeted that Apple "will be holding a spring event" to announce a new iPhone SE and other hardware. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Gurman said the event is likely to occur in March or April. Gurman did not elaborate on what "other hardware" will be announced at Apple's purported spring event, but rumors suggest at least four products are...