Tim Cook Sits Down with ABC News to Talk About iPhone Security Debate

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UPDATE: Watch the complete exclusive extended interview of Tim Cook from “World News Tonight with David Muir”:


Credit ABC News / “World News Tonight with David Muir”

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Tim Cook has taken a bold stand on privacy. He has been both adamant and consistent in his defense of encryption and privacy, and that has placed him–and Apple–at odds with the US government and its intelligence agencies. The issue has culminated in a high-profile legal battle between the FBI and Apple over efforts to gain access to an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooting terrorists.

The FBI insists this is a one-time request, specific to this device and solely for the purposes of identifying and thwarting any remaining terrorist threats related to the San Bernardino shooters. It has accused Apple of putting its reputation and brand marketing over national security or the lives lost in that shooting, and has essentially painted Apple as unpatriotic and attempting to obstruct a federal investigation.

Tim Cook sat down with David Muir for an exclusive interview with ABC News. The interview will be aired this evening on World News Tonight. In the interview, Cook takes exception to the way that the FBI has handled this issue and the adversarial approach that was taken from the beginning. Cook tells Muir, “I don’t think that something so important to this country should be handled in this way.”


Credit ABC News / “World News Tonight with David Muir”

Muir also presses Cook on whether it’s a good idea for Apple to take such a strong stand in protecting a terrorist’s privacy. Cook explains the broader implications of what the FBI is asking for and states, “This would be bad for America.”

Muir asks Cook if it haunts him at all that Apple could ostensibly help prevent another terrorist attack if there is important information on the iPhone in question. Cook responds with, “Some things are hard, and some things are right, and some things are both. This is one of those things.”


Credit ABC News / “World News Tonight with David Muir”

Tune in to “World News Tonight with David Muir” on ABC tonight (Wednesday, February 24 at 6:30 – 7:00pm EST) to watch the interview. The extended exclusive interview will be available online at ABCNews.com immediately following “World News Tonight.” “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” ABC News Radio and ABC NewsOne will also air portions of the interview.

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About Author

Tony Bradley is a social media, community, and content marketing wizard--and also Editor-in-Chief of TechSpective. Tony has a passion for technology and gadgets--with a focus on Microsoft and security. He also loves spending time with his family and likes to think he enjoys reading and golf even though he never finds the time for either.

82 Comments

  1. William Keptical on

    This is ridiculous…

    First, Apple isn’t in the business of protecting Americans. It is disingenuous to pretend they are.

    Second, no level of personal privacy on an iPhone is commensurate with national security. This is a clear-cut case of national security.

    Third, breaking one phone isn’t that slippery of a slope. The code never need be distributed and isn’t that vulnerable to attack, like, say, phone data backed up to iCloud is vulnerable to attack, d’uh. In fact, the software employed need not be anywhere on the internet.

    Finally and most simply, Apple, you’re an American corporation benefitting by and from the laws of the land. Obey them.

    • Apple is in the business 100% of protecting their users. If my phone is stolen in a mugging, I want to rest safely I won’t be mugged again after the fact when my data is stolen off the phone.

      It is interesting you don’t believe in the constitution. For example: in the name of national security, you believe in getting information by any means neccasary? Even if it means conscripting people to work doing something they don’t believe in and forcing a company to sign a document under duress. Sounds almost like slavery.

      The slippery slope is the hundreds of phones AFTER this phone. D’uh. You are very niave if you think this is a one time event.

      They are. I amazed at the number of people that think being a US citizen means rolling over like a whipped puppy. It is 100.000% legal to fight and appeal a court order.

        • It seems you really don’t understand the law (appealing a court order is 100.000% legal) or technology (do you really think the modified FBiOS will be developed and tested using the phone destined to bring down ISIS?).

          Thinking if someone says this is a mater of “National Security” so it justifies anything is a position for a weak mind.

          • Scott Mendelson on

            There is NOTHING in yours or anyone else’s silly phone, whose sanctity supersedes the need to investigate a clear and present danger to the lives of American citizens. This danger isn’t mere speculation, as are the paranoid rants of you and your friends. You should not have the slightest doubt that more innocent Americans, may someone you know, will be killed at the hands of ISIS or its sympathizers. Your civil rights should be respected. This is what court orders are for, and why additional court orders would be needed for any additional needs to break into phones. It makes m sick that people like you think that your privacy in what is almost certainly of a trivial nature, is more important than the lives of others. What do you have in your phone that anyone would give a sh-t about anyway? And if you don’t have anything of consequence, why is your matter of principle so important in his context?

          • So much wrong with this….

            “need to investigate a clear and present danger to the lives of American citizens.”
            First off, you’ve already proved Apple supporters point if you are arguing there must be a clear and present danger to the lives of american citizens in order to justify this. The killer is dead and hacking his work phone, not the personal one he already destroyed, doesn’t change that. There is no longer any clear and present danger related to this case.

            “This danger isn’t mere speculation, as are the paranoid rants of you and your friends”

            There is no more danger related to this particular terrorist attack so any danger you are hinting at is PURE speculation. On the other hand the US government, in recent years, has been caught abusing our rights by spying on us. People who understand technology and the law have clearly presented the dangerous legal implications of setting this precedent. Therefore it is clear you are the paranoid ranter, and nothing presented about the dangers of setting this legal precedent is speculation.

            “You should not have the slightest doubt that more innocent Americans, may someone you know, will be killed at the hands of ISIS or its sympathizers.”

            You should have the understanding that terrorist’s goals are not to kill as many Americans as possible. It’s to cause the fear(terror) that this quote clearly shows you have. After all, they aren’t called “murderists.” Thanks for helping ISIS achieve their goals.

            “Your civil rights should be respected.”

            Yes they should, which is why the government should not have the right to force companies to hack into their own customer’s data. Giving unfettered access to all of their customer’s personal information to the FBI in the process.

            “This is what court orders are for, and why additional court orders would be needed for any additional needs to break into phones. ”

            This is actually not what the Writs Act of 1789 is for. This hack won’t be limited to one phone, and intelligence agencies have a proven track record of abusing their powers which is why Apple is following the law and taking the FBI to court over it.

            “It makes m sick that people like you think that your privacy in what is almost certainly of a trivial nature, is more important than the lives of others. What do you have in your phone that anyone would give a sh-t about anyway?”

            I’m pretty sure your total obliviousness makes the majority of Americans sick. The data on our phones is not at all trivial, it’s everything. Every conversation we have had, every place we have been and when, every photo we have taken, every work email, every person we know, every product we’ve purchased, access to every financial institution we belong to and the money we’ve spent our lives working to save… I could go on and on. Forcing Apple to give the FBI access to our data, through Apple, wouldn’t save any lives. Any terrorist who may be an actual threat to national security would be using 3rd party encryption on their devices.

            “If you don’t have anything of consequence, why is your matter of principle so important in his context?”

            As i explained above, we do. The founding fathers of this nation set many limits to the power of the government due to the tendency of governments to abuse their power over their own citizens.

            So, unless you agree that a government agent should be able to walk into your home, at any time, and take any of your things or send a court order your way that says you have to put down your job to come rip down your neighbors front door for them, right now, because you helped install the lock and they can’t get past it. Then you agree with Apple.

          • Scott Mendelson on

            First of all, it is not some wild imagining I had. The FBI requested court order to break the phone. If you think they are fascists bent on looking at everyone’s phone for no good reason, then nothing I can say will convince you of anything. The terrorists who killed these people were in league with others. It is those communications and identities that MAY be important and MAY save lives. If we did knew what was in the phone then we wouldn’t need the court order, would we?
            I suppose the corts will decide but your flippant suggestion that anyone who knows anything agrees with you is utterly wrong.Court orders are what are issued under these circumstances. If you an thinlk of a way to get criminals to volunteer their secrets then I am interested in hearing it.
            Yes in the big scheme of things the trivial crap you have in your phone means nothing t anybody, and nothing compared to a life. Finally, the number of people killed is irrelevant.

          • “First of all, it is not some wild imagining I had. ”
            You view that data from this phone, taken from a terrorist who committed a crime THREE MONTHS AGO, could prevent anything is a very wild imagining.
            To think that after this case has gone public these imagined people of yours who are in league with the terrorist would continue the secret plans stored on the work phone of the terrorist that they know to be in FBI hands is flat out crazy.

            ” If you think they are fascists bent on looking at everyone’s phone for no good reason, then nothing I can say will convince you of anything.”:

            Nothing you say has any factual or logical basis. THAT is why you won’t convince me of anything other than the fact that the only people supporting the FBI in this case are A)ignorant about the law B) ignorant about technology or C) operating on fear and emotion instead of logic and reason.

            “The terrorists who killed these people were in league with others. It is those communications and identities that MAY be important and MAY save lives. If we did knew what was in the phone then we wouldn’t need the court order, would we?”

            If we KNEW these terrorists were in league with others then we would already KNOW who they were in contact with, totally eliminating the need to get into the phone to begin with.

            ” suppose the courts will decide but your flippant suggestion that anyone who knows anything agrees with you is utterly wrong.Court orders are what are issued under these circumstances. If you an thinlk of a way to get criminals to volunteer their secrets then I am interested in hearing it.”

            Yes the courts will decide. Who exactly is supporting the FBI that has a good understanding of the law and the tech involved and isn’t collecting a paycheck from them? Please enlighten me.

            Court orders for someone to hand over information may be issued under these circumstances, however all the info in Apple’s hands has been handed over. Court orders do not have the authority to make Apple create something that does not exist using it’s own resources. That is why this is going to court, that is why the FBI will lose.

            “Yes in the big scheme of things the trivial crap you have in your phone means nothing t anybody, and nothing compared to a life. Finally, the number of people killed is irrelevant.”

            My data means the world to me. The same could be said of the guy next to me, his data means the world to him and so on and so on and so on. In a democracy as long as the majority of people agree that their data is worth more to them than a strangers life then it is how their government should treat the situation. That is the Big Scheme of things.

          • Thank you Ben. Some much needed common sense. It’s tricky isn’t it? Figuring out who is simply misinformed by the horrible reporting being done vs those who are fascists, have their mind made up and won’t take any facts or new knowledge into consideration. Based on Scott’s last reply I clearly put him in the wrong category…

          • Actually, it is clear you really do not even begin to understand the nature of this case. You don’t understand law. You don’t understand technology and you really don’t understand The Constitution. The All Writs Act exists to cover situations where is no established legislation exists to cover a situation. In this specific case, Congress has passed laws SPECIFICALLY against this SPECIFIC a use of power. Basically, the court order looks to be illegal.

            Remember The Clipper Chip!!!

          • Are you saying data on a WORK phone that is 3 months old is a clear and present danger? Are you serious? He was conducting top secrete terrorist planning on his work phone? Is this what you are saying? Are you even thinking? 3 months. 3 months. A clear and present danger?

            On my phone? Schedules and account data (linking to most my life’s savings) for starters. Might not mean anything to you but it does to me.

            It is sad you are willing to give up security for a false sense of safety.

        • Perhaps. It does, however, spell out rights and liberties that limit the scope of what a court is allowed to order, and it protects the right to appeal that court order and have that debate. Until or unless the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled, there are still options on the table to appeal or debate the issue, and some in this country believe that even Supreme Court rulings can be debated or ignored if they disagree with them.

        • If the court order violates the constitution then you darn well better believe it does. Also a warrant can’t compel you do actively hack something, it’s simply an information request.

        • The constitution does in fact protect you against an unconstitutional court order.

          Writs Act of 1789 is what gave courts the ability to issue court orders that are “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

          FBI and one judge agree that this is necessary or appropriate. The supreme court or maybe several higher courts along the way, who are obligated to look at the bigger picture, will not agree when they look at the broader implications of the law.

    • I understand that it’s easy to get lost in this particular case. We all abhor terrorists and most have no qualms with violating the rights of those they don’t agree with in the name of “national security”–which is why the FBI chose this iPhone and this case to plant the flag and turn it into a public spectacle. It knew that public opinion would side with the FBI and make it into a United States vs. terrorists argument.

      That isn’t what’s at stake. Odds are very good that there is nothing of value from an intelligence perspective on this iPhone, and that any value it had has been squandered by making this a public spectacle. By the time this gets dragged through the Supreme Court, any information on this iPhone will be outdated and useless. The FBI knows that. The FBI went against Apple’s advice and intentionally changed the iCloud password on the account to create this scenario and set this battle up–not for this iPhone, but to try and win a court case that will set the precedent that national security trumps all and the government can compel and conscript private companies in the name of national security.

      Breaking one iPhone isn’t a slippery slope. Setting the precedent that it can be done and that it is legal for the government to demand It be done is a slippery slope. Actually, it’s not a slope–it’s just jumping off the damn cliff. If the FBI prevails in this case, there will be hundreds of these requests to Apple and any other company out there, and it won’t take long until “national security” gets eroded to “national interests”, then “active investigation” or whatever justification is necessary.

      Here is an example from history. The government included a controversial–and most likely unconstitutional–provision in the PATRIOT Act, because national security trumps the Constitution and terrorists don’t have rights, blah, blah, blah. That provision is used primarily in domestic drug cases having absolutely nothing to do with national security or terrorism: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/10/29/surprise-controversial-patriot-act-power-now-overwhelmingly-used-in-drug-investigations/

        • They are obeying the law. Ever hear of an appeal? What’s up for debate (by someone certainly higher than a magistrate) is whether the government , under the All Writs Act, can compel a company to write and distribute custom software , which is what is required to meet the FBI’s demands.

          Did you get that William? Is it clear? *write custom software* for the FBI. There is no law that allows for that. A court ruling in the FBI’s favor would have far rippling effects on the government’s authority to compel companies or individuals to work for the government and provide services to the government. This is not in any way similar to a search warrant or subpoena. If you disagree, please state why.

        • You are lost. Apple is obeying the law. The FBI is attempting to twist the law. Apple is following the legal process and you will see the FBI is on the wrong side.

    • “Apple isn’t in the business of protecting Americans.” – right, so Apple should not be forced into the business of writing custom software or firmware to aid the FBI in hacking devices in order to “protect Americans”

      “no level of personal privacy on an iPhone is commensurate with national security” – nonsequitor. These two are unrelated unless you are arguing encryption should be illegal.

      “Third, breaking one phone isn’t that slippery of a slope. The code never need be distributed and isn’t that vulnerable to attack, like, say, phone data backed up to iCloud is vulnerable to attack, d’uh. In fact, the software employed need not be anywhere on the internet.”

      It is irrelevant whether Apple can do this while keeping the code secure. The key question is can the government force Apple to write code for the government that meets government issued requirements? The answer is an emphatic “no.” It is outright scary how fascists like yourself try to justify this…

      • Scott Mendelson on

        What I find fascinating is that you readily accept the malignancy of the US government but at the same time seem to ignore the more easily demonstrated fact that other states and agencies of terror in the world with high technological capacity are far more malignant, and far more steadily set on killing innocent American citizens. That isn’t speculation, unless you are so paranoid you think the government staged it all.
        With all of the faults of the US government, I would rather have them on my side than ISIS or your techno-nerd friends.

        • I’m sorry Scott, did you have a point? Encryption technology exists. Has existed for quite some time, in the order of decades. And good encryption is not crackable by anyone, including the creator.

          Do you honestly believe that iPhone encryption is a threat to national security? For that matter, is any encryption not crackable by the U.S. government a threat to national security? Have you heard of PGP? For that matter, Scott, do you understand how encryption works and why backdoors are impossible without defeating encryption’s purpose?

          Answer me that, instead of these vague statements that implies this is a discussion of privacy vs. security, which it most certainly is not.

          • Scott Mendelson on

            Of course it is a discussion of privacy versus security!!! If it wasn’t then no one would give a flying fuk! And yes, I do honestly believe that iPhone encryption CAN be a threat to national security, depending on the circumstances. I can’t believe that a obviously intelligent articulate person such as yourself so blind to that. If a terrorist, and their actually are some in case you have been away, wanted to keep information secret, they would use an encrypted device. If there was imminent risk and a way to get that information then we should get it. Period. Besides, what is that you have on your phone that anyone would care the slightest about? In fact, I think, it is reasonable to ask why encryption is necessary? Is your stand on principle more important than the possibility of saving innocent lives?

          • “I don’t know the fine points of encryption…” and there’s the problem Scott. People don’t understand, they think it’s simple (“unlock the phone Apple!”) and they miss the forest in the trees.

            This is not a debate about security, nor whether Apple can do this without compromising other phones, nor whether anyone has an expectation of privacy on their phone. The debate is: Can the government compel a company to write software? Read it again. To comply, Apple must write and modify customized software and provide it to the government.

            The court is not issuing a subpoena or a search warrant, like to guess why? Because neither apply. This is analogous to the government going to the manufacturer of a self destructing safe and demanding they *create* a way to get inside without losing its contents.

            Do you understand the absurd precedent that gets set if the government can compel companies to *create products* to aid investigations?

            It seems (and correct me if I’m wrong) you don’t really care how the court order gets fulfilled because the phone was used by a guilty party and the government needs information. If so, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

            My argument is: The phone and its data are not owned by Apple. It is owned by a government municipality that failed to secure the device before giving it to employees. It is not Apple’s responsibility to reverse engineer its own product (and create new software in the process) to assist the government in accessing the phone’s data.

            If you believe all forms of digital encryption should be accessible to the government on demand (even if, by design, not even the manufacturer can access it) then I’ll suggest you:
            A – read up on how encryption actually works
            B – learn how this fundamentally breaks encryption, rendering it useless for everyone – not just those who are afraid of the government seeing their nude selfies.

          • Scott Mendelson on

            I must confess that lives and national security eclipse encryption and corporate rights. You are right. I don’t know the first thing about encryption. I am a physician and a neuroscientist. We are morons, not geniuses like you. I can’t help that. But I don’t give a fuck about the encryption that you love so dearly, because it doesn’t matter. The wolrd would be none the worse off completely without it. Moreover, I believe that the courts will find in favor of the FBI because more important things are at stake. It is quite possible that they will hire someone rather than forcing Apple to do it. Or they may restrict Apple’s production until they do it. Techno-nerds like you are antisocial, heartless fools who love their own words. There is an impasse here. I just wonder if you would think differently if someone you knew was killed, or if, like me, you had treated the victims of mass shootings. But you worship words and technology.
            Rest easy, because those dumbasses in government you so despise are watching out for you.

          • So basically, yes – you think “national security” (whatever that is) trumps all laws, case law, and “rights” (that’s pretty scary) We’ll have to agree to disagree.

            But FYI, if a court case came up that required some knowledge of a certain medical profession, I’d probably read up on it before siding with anyone.

            “Techno nerds”, “antisocial”, “heartless” – nice ad hominem attacks. Sadly, none address a single point I made; which, if you read my comment, doesn’t even require knowing “the first thing about encryption.”

            Go along your merry way Scott, blissfully ignorant with an arrogant attitude that I’m sure will convince others that your misinformed, uneducated opinion should hold the same weight as say, someone who actually understands the story.

          • Scott Mendelson on

            Certain situations certainly do trump privacy and always have. This is part and parcel of the law and it’s allowance of devices such as court orders. It will remain to be seen if the Supreme Court decides that the situation merits this action.
            As for my ad hominem attacks… you’re right, they don’t address any of your points. They address mine.

          • Have you ever once used on-line shopping? Are you advocation transmitting ALL secure credit and bank information in the clear allowing anyone to get everyone’s bank information?

            Do you even understand technology and how it works? This is a serious question because it really seems like you don’t.

    • Thanks for proving your ignorance. Lets go point by point,

      First, Apple is very much in the business of protecting it’s customers information. (All of them, not just Americans. Way to be ignorant AND egocentric. Nice combo.) I purchased an Apple product because I want my data secure. So secure the FBI can’t even get it.

      Second, Personal privacy and data privacy is commensurate with national security. Once the software has been broken, any hacker, from any country could get their hands on it and use it to get information from US government officials devices.

      Third, It’s not breaking into ONE phone, it breaking into the software which is on EVERY phone. It’s not on a slippery slope, it’s already at the bottom of the slope the min the software is cracked.

      Finally, most simply, and most importantly Apple is an american corporation benefiting from the protections of laws of the land. The FBI is not above those laws, and need to OBEY THEM. Apple is contesting the ILLEGAL court order using the law which will exonerate their actions and shame the FBI by trying to use emotion to trump reason and the laws of the land.

    • Oh yeah, If it wasn’t an Apple phone, everything would be just hunky dory.
      Do you actually trust the government to that degree? Really?

      Given all the disgraces already committed against Americans by their very own intelligence communities, you still want to give them the master key?
      I’m ex-navy. I served to keep this country safe against enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC.
      You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

        • It sounds like the terrorist have already defeated you.

          I’m amazed at the number of people framing this as “for government” OR “for terrorists”.

          But this is why the FBI picked this particular phone. They knew they would get a huge number of non-thinking people on their side looking only at the minor implication of this court order (the hope we will bring down ISIS in the Americas off the data on his work phone. Note: he destroyed his personal phone. Guess where the real data was) while overlooking the broader long term consequences of this ruling.

        • You don’t have to trust either, and you don’t even have to trust Apple. Apple wants to make it so the only people who get their customers data are the people who their customers want to share data with, this means that not even they can access the data.

      • hahah!!! nice.

        It’s like these people don’t even understand that 3rd party encryption not only exists, but would be used by any terrorist smart enough to be a threat to national security.

    • ^^ One point for the terrorists.

      Hey look they used fear(terror) to get you to support giving away your personal freedoms. Way to work for the other team.

  2. LOL. Marketing PR by Apple that tracks its smartphone users location while accessing your contacts and everything else to know about you then resells your info to third parties. Data mining thats where the big bucks are. Back to standing up for privacy rights available 24/7 on all channels. I see a Geraldo special in the offspring here

    • You do realize you goofed and put Apple where you meant to put Google? Apple has been very consistent on their privacy stance when compared to other tech companies that build their business on advertising.

      • You do realize that each time you open your phone you are giving about 40 apps permission to access all your data. It’s called data mining

        • Oh your understanding of all things digital is amazing.

          So, thanks to your insight, the FBI will give one of those app makers a call for the data. I’m sure they can’t afford the legal team Apple can.

          ^^ Sarcasm.

          Google sells your info, since info is what they sell. Apple keeps your info local to your hardware, since hardware is what they sell.

    • Have to agree with Steven Noyes. I don’t believe there is any credible evidence that Apple has done any of the things you’re suggesting. With Google, on the other hand, it’s the business model the company is built on.

  3. Allow North Korea and Iran to have nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles
    because it’s their right to privacy/ to choose (we wouldn’t want to be judgmental)? There’s rights and then there’s National security-a balance. After a nuclear mess, nobody will have many rights. Should cops have to be beaten, shot and sued before they can protect us or themselves (this question is related folks)?
    I’m willing to give up some rights to help combat run away serial criminals (turn on the news) and terrorist-it’s the loving thing to do re our fellow man .Evil dictators/ muslim terrorist and serial criminals are ruining the world and our rights-let’s get tough on these fools not our our law enforcement team. Boycott Apple if they can’t see the light.

    • You don’t speak for everyone and you certainly don’t speak for the constitution. But thankfully we live in a country where you have a right to spew your anti-American sentiment.

    • North Korea and Iran are not companies or people operating in the united states and are therefore not offered the protections we have.

      This is a terrible analogy, but I’ll bite.

      Iran and North Korea both do have a right to nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. All we can do is sanction them to discourage them by making the economic risks outweigh the benefits.
      Or we could attack them… however if we are allowed to attack another nation… then why can’t that nation build weapons to attack us?

      Either way green light for them to have nukes. Also, nothing to do with Apple VS FBI.

    • Oh and by the way, any terrorist who we need to worry about would know how to use 3rd party encryption… meaning giving the FBI access to all of our information doesn’t even catch terrorists as their data will still be encrypted, outside of apples environment.

  4. Michael Collins on

    Wow, people have a lot of opinions, but not very much information. Let me see if I can shed a little light–without taking sides.

    In order to understand what the FBI is asking for, you have to understand the basics of modern encryption. I’ll offer an overview of public/private encryption keys.

    Public/Private keys are created with somewhat complicated math using very large prime numbers. You don’t have to understand the math to understand what the keys do.

    Private keys can Encrypt and Decrypt data. Public keys can only Encrypt data. So, once I’ve created a key pair, I can publish my public key to world. It doesn’t matter who has my public key because it can only be used to encrypt data. It cannot be used to decrypt data.

    If I use Bob’s public key together with Mary’s pubic key to encrypt a message, then Bob can decrypt the message with Bob’s private key and Mary can decrypt the message with Mary’s private key.

    The FBI wants Apple (and other software vendors) to secretly include the FBI’s public key in the software. That way, every message that gets encrypted with Mary’s public key or Bob’s public key or anyone else public key, also gets encrypted with the FBI’s public key. That way, the FBI can decrypt the message too.

    The problem is, the mathematics to create public/private keys is already known. It’s already available in open source products freely available on the internet. Even if you could remove all of those open source products from the internet, you cannot undo the mathematical understanding.

    Right now, ANYONE can download openSSL, or a number of other open source programs that use these mathematical principles and generate their very own public/private key pairs. They can send the public key to their friends or conspirators who can then encrypt messages which only the private key holder can open and which the FBI, the NSA and all of the kings men with all the computers in the universe cannot decrypt before our Sun runs out of fuel.

    If Apple gives the FBI what it wants, all of your secure communications will be in jeopardy. Do you think the director of the FBI will be the only person who has access to the FBI’s private key that can decrypt all communications? Do you think there will only be one copy of that private key? You realize that there will be many copies of that key. There will be many FBI employees and FBI contractors with access to one of the many copies of that private key. You realize that a private key that can open all decrypted communications is worth a lot of money–right? It is only a matter of time until one of the many employees or contractors at the FBI decides to supplement their retirement fund by making a copy of that very small but very important file.

    And what benefit do we get from this? Anyone with any tech savvy already knows how to generate their own key pairs and bypass all of this.

    What we get is the ability to catch a few non-technical malicious people. Will that save some lives. Yes, I’d guess that it will. Some. Will that give us a way to look at all messages by all terrorists? No. They already know how to bypass all of this.

    If you’ve made it this far, at least you have something to base your opinions on now.

    • San Bernardino on

      I prefer communicating the old-fashion way to avoid being tracked.
      I’ve mastered the art of Non-Digital communication.
      Some people refer to it as Verbal Conversation and Handwriting.
      In this digital spy age, why would a criminal or terrorist risk getting caught on purpose??

    • Ah, Tim Cook and Apple protecting my security. And Google as well. How much data do these righteous corporations have on me and every other person who uses their technology? I’ll opt for Uncle Sam to protect me and my rights. And for Tim Cook to get off his soap box and go to jail.

      • What? It’s clear you have zero information about this topic.

        Google has a lot of your data and shares it for the purpose of tailor made ads for you. Apple does not, they sell hardware, not info. Their business model is supported by having secure devices. Google’s model is based on using your information to sell ads.

        You’ll opt for uncle Sam to protect you and your rights? Good, so when Uncle Sam’s legal process, which Tim Cook is following properly, rules that the FBI is overreaching and protects Apple you’ll sign back on and admit you were wrong about Tim Cook and Apple?

        Or by uncle same do you mean the government intelligence agencies who have been busted over the last decade illegally spying on us?

        • Yep they’re the ones. And I support them not Snowden, Manning, ASSange or Tim Cook. And you, we’ll be keeping our eye on you and all that really important stuff on your phone. Now go back to writing your important posts and don’t bother the adults anymore.

          • That is your right. However the law does not support the FBI and neither does the majority of Americans. Well touch base once the court system backs Apple.

  5. Don’t care about the laws, how terrible Apple is for not helping the victims, or prevent terror attacks. Those issues are important but pale by comparison to what CAN HAPPEN after that software is created.

    Recently dealt with some issues with web servers. All is good now, the geniuses have patched the broken code effecting almost everyone. The point of this story is that much of the security steps I take to protect websites involves TURNING OFF FEATURES that were originally GOOD! Those features created with GOOD INTENTIONS years ago are now used by evil people to steal, and harm.

    The FBI can NEVER guarrantee that software will NEVER be used in a malicious way. It’s ABSURD to believe that the FBI can make any promises like this.

  6. Tim Cook is so consumed with his own self importance and is just hell bent on “being right”. but to say that they could not unlock this one phone without the code going out to the world is either an indicator of gross incompetence on Apple’s part or just telling a lie to make his refusal look good.

    • Your statements mocking the importance of data on phones along with your inability understanding the difference between compelling a company to hand over a key to a phone and compelling a company to create software that does not exist in order to break into a phone are both hilarious and a testimate to why nobody should take anything you have to say on this topic seriously.

      Please continue spewing your misinformation, as it is your right to do, I’m loving the entertainment factor.

      • I’m sure you’re incredibally smart. But as to my knowledge, I spent over 40 years in software development probably starting well before you were born. Both in creation and in senior leadership. I won’t bother to explain the ridiculous assertions Apple is making because it’s clear you’ve enjoyed the Koolaide. As to misinformation, take a deep breath and listen carefully to the interview again. And try to do so with an open mind. You might hear some things you didn’t fully comprehend before. But our different takes on this really don’t matter. In the end, Apple will be forced to comply.

          • Glad you recognize the work some of us have done to evolve that technology. Thank you. As to why Apple will comply, they’ll lose their appeal. The government case is well founded.

          • Apple will comply only if our justice system fails us. They will appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. The FBI has no case. The FBI’s entire strategy is trying to use fear to motivate Apple with public pressure. Apple called their bluff.

        • 40 years in software and what do you have to show for it? Successful people in the software industry like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai all agree with me. Another software guy who’s been in the industry for a while named Bill Gates also spoke out denying claimes he supported the FBI.

          Regardless, this isn’t a software issue, it’s a law issue. Nobody is denying that this can be done. Go ahead and explain, this is a discussion board, it is here for you to eighteen us. Name the law gives the government the right to order a company to create something. Name the case that sets the president that this is ok.

          • Ha, you’re quite frustrated aren’t you. I have plenty to show for my efforts. I’m retired, comfortably, living on the water with a couple of boats, 3 nice vehicles, and plenty of things to keep me busy. Information technology and years of hard work can be very rewarding. But I’m certainly no Bill Gates. I’m not sure what “eighteen us” means but as to the law, you’re right. And that’s why the FBI will win. Their assertion is based on sound law and while you may not agree, a judge has and appellate courts will agree as well. Now go back to work. I’m sure someone’s waiting on their fries.

          • I’ll skip the “my wallet is bigger than your wallet” pissing contest. In my opinion, though, this will go to the Supreme Court. More precisely, I think it needs to go to the Supreme Court because it’s that important and needs to be as fully resolved as possible.

            I disagree with you, Middle. The All Writs Act is archaic and vague, and what the FBI is demanding is unconstitutional and amounts to a government takeover of private enterprise.

            I do agree it will be decided in court–hopefully the Supreme Court. The FBI will lose, though, as it should.

          • Finally a rational opinion. I agree it will go to the Supreme Court. And you might be right. But thanks to the do nothing at any cost congress, the Supreme Court might be split even and that would let whatever the Appelate court says stand. Where we disagree is on whether or not the FBI position is unconstitutional. And that charge seems to be thrown around whenever there is a disagreement on anything anymore. And that constitution is also archaic and somewhat vague in many places. This is a passionate issue for a lot of people. Not me. There is so much information floating around out there and thanks to technology it’s easily accessible. Not too many secrets. My credit card info could be grabbed the next time I buy gas. Tim is a bright guy but like all of the major execs he has the Donald Trump syndrome of believing his view is absolutely correct. He’s just not the savior of all things good and proper he thinks he is. There is another side. And that other side is the very real need to look under every rock to try and identify and stop the fanatics who want to kill us and get some virgins when they die. The attorneys will get their days in court. And we’ll move on with our little lives whatever the decision. But I do understand your position. Thanks for sharing in a thoughtful way.

  7. Funny I thought we did well without such encryption for millenia. This is about marketing.

    As grand poobar of the shady politician/pedophile/stalker/la cosa
    nostra/terrorist/people who want to get away with something/paranoid society I thank you Mr Cook for fighting for us

  8. As grand poobar of the shady politician/pedophile/stalker/la cosa
    nostra/terrorist/people who want to get away with something/paranoid society I thank you Mr Cook for fighting for us. So much for transparency.

  9. Pingback: BlackBerry Triples Down on Security - IT-TNA | IT-TNA

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