Apple opposes US court order to unlock iPhone

eGov Innovation editors
eGov Innovation

After the US government demanded Apple unlock a phone owned by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attacks in the US last year, the tech firm objected and initiated a discussion to help the public “understand what is at stake.”

In a message to customers, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that what the government effectively wants Apple to do is remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system that would unlock the iPhone easily.

“Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession,” Cook emphasized.

“The implications of the government’s demands are chilling,” he added. “If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data.”

Cook believes that the government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software that can intercept messages, access personal records or camera, or track location without users’ knowledge.

Cook said this could set a dangerous precedent.

“Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the US government,” he stated firmly.

“We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.”

Apple, however, shared that in the days following the attacks in San Bernardino, the company has provided the FBI with data it requested and have made Apple engineers available to advise FBI on its investigative options.

Cook also clarified that Apple has no sympathy for terrorists and that it was outraged by the mass shooting in San Bernardino in December. The incident left 14 people killed and 22 others seriously injured.

“We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected,” Cook stated.”We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good.”

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