FBI Responds to Apple’s iPhone Cracking Concerns

FBI director James Comey issued a statement on February 21, addressing Apple CEO Tim Cook’s refusal to comply with a court order ordering Apple to create an encryption workaround for the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Comey asked the public to, “take a deep breath and stop saying the world is ending, but instead use that breath to talk to each other.”

In response to Cook’s worry that giving the FBI this workaround would create what he called “a dangerous precedent,” Comey stated:”The San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message…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. We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land.” One of Cook’s major objections to the order was that it would give the government unprecedented access to locked devices, and would jeopardize everyone’s security.

Comey said, “It is about the victims and justice. Fourteen people were slaughtered and many more had their lives and bodies ruined. We owe them a thorough and professional investigation under law. That’s what this is. The American people should expect nothing less from the FBI.”

Cook sent out another message to the world on the morning on February 22, this time an email to Apple employees. In it, he stood by his conviction that complying with the order would be damaging to privacy, as well as reiterating the company’s stance regarding the attacks:

“As individuals and as a company, we have no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists. When they commit unspeakable acts like the tragic attacks in San Bernardino, we work to help the authorities pursue justice for the victims. And that’s exactly what we did. This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation, 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.”

Reminiscent of Comey’s admonition to “talk to each other,” Cook summarized his arguments by saying, “Our country has always been strongest when we come together.”

Read FBI Director James Comey’s statement here:

FBI Statement

Read Apple CEO Tim Cook’s email to Apple employees here:

Tim Cook’s email

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