Feds should withdraw demand for iPhone hack, Apple CEO to employees

WASHINGTON -- Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said in an early Monday morning email to employees that the U.S. government should withdraw its demand that Apple help the FBI hack a locked iPhone used by a shooter in the San Bernardino attack.

See Full Article

The message, subject-lined "Thank you for your support," is accompanied by an online question and answer page that reiterates many of the comments Cook made in a public letter after a magistrate judge's order last week. His communication to staff also brushes aside several key government claims made in Friday's filing, including an assertion that the company was acting out of business interests in saying it would not cooperate with an investigation of the California shootings by the FBI.

The comments from Apple and its CEO cap a week of back-and-forth filings and statements involving the Justice Department, FBI and Apple, after a U.S. magistrate ordered the company to break its iPhone security protocols to assist federal officials probing the San Bernardino shootings.

The emerging legal fight has sparked a debate on government power, privacy, digital rights, public safety and security set in connection with the Dec. 2 shootings.

The county-owned iPhone was used by Syed Farook, who along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people during the attack.

Cook states in the letter to employees that the company has "no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists" and believes abiding by the judge's order would be unlawful, an expansion of government powers, and would set a dangerous precedent that would essentially create a backdoor to the encrypted iPhone.

"This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation," Cook wrote, "so when we received the government's order we knew we had to speak out."

"At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone's civil liberties."

The question and answer posting acknowledges that it is technically possible for Apple to do what the judge ordered, but that it's "something we believe is too dangerous to do."

Apple also points to the difficulty of keeping such a "master key" safe once it has been created. The government has said that Apple could keep the specialized technology it would create to help officials hack the phone - bypassing a security time delay and feature that erases all data after 10 consecutive, unsuccessful attempts to guess the unlocking passcode. This would allow the FBI to use technology to rapidly and repeatedly test numbers in what's known as a brute force attack.

If the company's engineers were to do as ordered, Apple would do its best to protect it the technology, but Cook said the company "would be relentlessly attacked by hackers and cybercriminals."

"The only way to guarantee such a powerful tool isn't abused and doesn't fall into the wrong hands is to never create it," Apple states in the memo. The company has until Friday to formally protest the ruling in court.

FBI Director James Comey said in an online post Sunday that Apple owes investigative cooperation to the San Bernardino victims and said the dispute wasn't about creating legal precedent. The FBI "can't look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don't follow this lead," Comey said.

"We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist's passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That's it," Comey wrote. "We don't want to break anyone's encryption or set a master key loose on the land."

Cook said the government should withdraw its demand to the judge and form a group to discuss the issues brought up by this case. He said Apple would participate in such an undertaking.

Apple said it has continued to cooperate and has tried to help the government since the Justice Department court filings.

Much of the rhetoric has focused on whether the Justice Department would actually focus its investigation on a single phone, or whether its move in court represents an attempt to set a precedent for technology sharing that would ultimately be used on multiple phones. This high-profile case would not have existed if the county government that owned the iPhone had installed a feature on it that would have allowed the FBI to easily and immediately unlock the phone.

San Bernardino County had bought the technology, known as mobile device management from MobileIron Inc., but never installed it on any of the inspectors' phones, including Farook's, said county spokesman David Wert said. There is no countywide policy on the matter and departments make their own decisions, he said.

The service costs $4 per month per phone.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Oldest zoo gorilla doing well after biopsy before birthday

    Tech & Science CTV News
    POWELL, Ohio - The oldest known gorilla living in a zoo is doing well after a surgical biopsy ahead of her 60th birthday on Dec. 22. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said Saturday that veterinarians successfully removed a mass under the gorilla's arm that recently started causing her discomfort. Source
  • Friendly moose befriends 2 cows on Vermont farm

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SHELDON, Vt. -- A Vermont couple has chased off a moose that appeared to be bonding with their two cows on a Sheldon farm because they didn't want it to get injured, stuck in their barn or damage their fences. Source
  • Scientists gathering in Winnipeg to focus on 'complex' changing Arctic climate

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The largest single gathering of scientists focused on the rapidly changing Arctic gets underway in Winnipeg on Monday. ArcticNet 2016 will see 800 scientists from across the country gather at the RBC Convention Centre to present research on a wide array of subjects impacting the health of the biology and the physical systems of the Arctic. Source
  • Apple founder street name shakes Paris suburb to the core

    Tech & Science CTV News
    He changed technology and how the world communicates. Now, five years after he died, Apple founder Steve Jobs may be remembered in another way -- on a Paris street. "Rue Steve Jobs" is among names shortlisted for one of the new roads in the French capital's southeastern 13th arrondissement that will lead to a new incubator for hi-tech start-ups. Source
  • A sound investment for Lamborghini fans

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The Ixoost EsaVox Speaker system is inspired by a Lamborghini's quad exhaust and ventilation set up and comes with the automotive marque's seal of approval. Like the most exclusive and most extreme cars in production, the Ixoost EsaVox is hand crafted in Italy. Source
  • A planet's worth of human-made things has been weighed

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A new report has calculated the total mass of all the technology humans have produced, everything from buildings to cars and computers, and found it is an astounding 30 trillion tons. That is more than the total amount of living matter on Earth. Source
  • Is chocolate really good for you? UBC scientists make new tool to measure antioxidants

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Every chocolate lover wants the headlines about antioxidants in chocolate to be true. And, for better or for worse, determining just how much of the disease-fighting molecules are contained in this popular treat may be getting a little easier. Source
  • Canadian researchers are leading the way to Mars

    Tech & Science CBC News
    When humans one day set foot on Mars, Canadians will have contributed a lot of science to having made that happen. As Canadians, we're not known for bragging, but there are many Canadian scientists and engineers who have contributed greatly to our understanding of Mars and who are paving the way for humans to one day settle on its dusty surface. Source
  • Canadian scientists help prepare a path to Mars

    Tech & Science CBC News
    If humans one day set foot on Mars, Canadians will have contributed to the science that helped make it possible. As Canadians, we're not known for bragging, but there are many Canadian scientists and engineers who have contributed greatly to our understanding of Mars and who are preparing the path for humans to one day settle on its dusty surface. Source
  • 4 major world cities pledge to eliminate diesel vehicles

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- Host Mexico City has joined with Paris, Madrid and Athens in committing to eliminate diesel vehicles from their cities by 2025. The C40 Mayors Summit announced the agreement Thursday. A statement said the commitment would reduce air pollution and related health issues in those cities, while also helping cities meet climate goals. Source