Apple VP Eddy Cue says the U.S. government could force Apple to secretly implement surveillance technology in its devices if the FBI's current demands in the ongoing iPhone encryption dispute are met.
The company's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services made the ominous prediction during an interview yesterday with U.S.-based Spanish-language TV network Univision, a transcript of which was provided by Apple to Business Insider.
In the extensive interview, the Apple executive reiterated a number of arguments offered by the company over the last weeks, but Cue put special emphasis on the risk of facing a slippery slope that could invite more insidious demands should the FBI get its way and be provided a backdoor to iPhone users' data.
"When they can get us to create a new system to do new things, where will it stop?" Cue asked. "For example, one day the FBI may want us to open your phone's camera, microphone. Those are things we can't do now. But if they can force us to do that, I think that's very bad. That should not happen in this country."
The Apple VP offered a fresh analogy to explain the company's issue with the FBI's demand, likening it to giving someone a key to the back door of your home.
What they want is to give them a key to the back door of your house, and we don't have the key. Since we don't have the key, they want us to change the lock. When we change the latchkey, it changes for everyone. And we have a key that opens all phones. And that key, once it exists, exists not only for us. Terrorists, criminals, pirates, all too will find that key to open all phones.
Cue also accused the FBI of being out of step with other government agencies, stating that the Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, who is responsible for the NSA, "wants encryption to continue getting more and more secure, because he knows that if we create some way to get in, criminals and terrorists will get in. They don't want that."
Cue explained that Apple engineers are continually working to make its devices more secure, and that people should not view the current case as Apple versus the government, but rather an example of Apple's attempts to keep the public safe from criminals and other dangerous actors.
It's Apple engineers against terrorists, against criminals. They are the people we are trying to protect people from. We are not protecting the government. We want to help. They have a very difficult job, they are there to protect us. So we want to help as much as possible, but we can not help them in a way that will help more criminals, terrorists, pirates.
He also underlined the U.S. government's recent poor record of keeping the public's information – and even that of its own employees – secure, arguing that "the only way we can protect ourselves is to make the phone more safe."
Cue is the second Apple executive this week to publicly comment on the case, following Craig Federighi's Monday op-ed in The Washington Post in which he criticized the FBI for wanting to turn back the clock to a less-secure time.
Apple has officially opposed an order that would require it to help the FBI break into the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook and will now face off against the government in court on March 22.
Eddy Cue's full interview can be read on the Univision website.
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