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

(View all)
Avatar
60 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)
Avatar
60 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)
Avatar
60 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)
Avatar
60 months ago
Jony Ive is the hardware equivalent of cancer...making the battery thinner and everything.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
60 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)
Avatar
60 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)

Top Stories

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

Apple Releases Safari 14 for Mac Ahead of macOS Big Sur Launch

Wednesday September 16, 2020 1:40 pm PDT by
macOS Big Sur didn't launch alongside iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 today, with the update coming later this fall, but Apple did release the Safari 14 update for macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave users. Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

iOS 14 Picture in Picture No Longer Working With YouTube's Mobile Website in Safari [Without Premium]

Friday September 18, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 added Picture in Picture to the iPhone, a feature designed to let you watch a video in a small screen on your device while you continue to do other things on the phone. When Picture in Picture was working with YouTube The YouTube app doesn't support Picture in Picture, but up until yesterday there was a functional workaround that allowed videos from YouTube.com to be watched...

Hands-On With the New Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE

Friday September 18, 2020 1:19 pm PDT by
Today's the official launch date for the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, both of which Apple announced on Tuesday. We picked up a couple of the new models and thought we'd give them a quick look for MacRumors readers thinking of ordering a new watch. Apple Watch Series 6 & Apple Watch SE Hands-On! When it comes to design, both the $399 Series 6 and the $279 SE look just like...

iOS 14.2 Beta Adds New Shazam Music Recognition Feature for Control Center

Thursday September 17, 2020 3:36 pm PDT by
Apple today released the first beta of iOS 14.2 to developers for testing purposes, and the new update introduces a Music Recognition control for the Control Center. The new feature lets you discover music playing around you and it recognizes the music playing with in apps, even when you're wearing AirPods. Songs pop up as notifications, and you can tap to listen in Apple Music....

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

Apple Releases watchOS 7 With New Watch Faces, Family Setup, Sleep Tracking, Handwashing Help and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:47 pm PDT by
Apple today released watchOS 7, the newest version of the watchOS operating system designed to run on modern Apple Watch models. The watchOS 7 update comes after several months of beta testing. ‌watchOS 7‌ can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General > Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch needs to have at...