Apple CEO On FBI Order: Security Of Hundreds Of Millions Of Users At Stake
This week, Tim Cook, the chief executive officer of Apple, had emailed a message to the company’s employees regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s request to unlock a certain iPhone device. Using the subject line “Thank you for your support,”, the email contains a number of references to the open letter that Cook sent out last week.
In his email (full text available here, courtesy of TechCrunch), Cook basically calls for the dismissal of the FBI order. According to him, the real issue at stake here is not just about a single iPhone device or a specific investigation, but the protection of the data owned by hundreds of millions of mobile users who are not breaking any law. Cook further added that by giving in to the FBI’s request, the company is setting a dangerous precedent that could endanger the civil liberties of every mobile user today.
Cook acknowledges that those who agree with the FBI order wants Apple to essentially downgrade data protective measures to levels used in iOS 7 (released back in September of 2013). Devices running on this version of the tech giant’s iOS operating system proved to be still vulnerable even though they were locked using a personal identification (PIN) code. Apple has since boosted the security features of newer iOS versions. But now the FBI wants the company to roll it back in order gain access to one specific iPhone device under investigation. For the record, Apple has never unlocked an iPhone for the government, despite what some of the public may think.
Cook also said in his email that a commission should be created in order to start discussions on how intelligence gathering, mobile technology, and civil liberties should go together. He further stated that Apple will wholeheartedly participate in such a discussion in order to always ensure that the privacy of iPhone owners and all mobile users in America are protected.
Over the weekend, James Comey, the director of the FBI, published an op-ed claiming that the agency was not actually requesting Apple to create a universal backdoor hack. In the op-ed, Comey stated that the FBI merely wanted the opportunity to attempt to guess the terrorist’s iPhone passcode without the device self destructing, so to speak.
But supporters of Apple have since argued that a tool that allows exactly that, once out in the open, could fall into the hands of third parties who could use it, revise it, and generally utilize it for less than immaculate purposes. Indeed, with all the hacks and security breaches that have happened in the last few years, it is pretty understandable why so many people are against this idea.