Apple employees are already discussing what they will do if ordered to help law enforcement authorities. Some say they may balk at the work, while others may even quit their high-paying jobs rather than undermine the security of the software they have already created, according to more than a half-dozen current and former Apple employees.
Since Apple uses small specialized teams when developing its hardware and software, there is a good idea of who would be on the team tasked to build a backdoor into the iPhone. The NYT's says it would include an engineer who previously worked at an aerospace company and developed software for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Another senior quality assurance engineer described as an expert 'bug catcher' and a third would specializes in security architecture for operating systems powering the iPhone, Mac and Apple TV.
If these engineers refuse to do the work, it would be harder for a court to compel them to do so.
“In the hierarchy of civil disobedience, a computer scientist asked to place users at risk has the strongest claim that professional obligations prevent compliance,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “This is like asking a doctor to administer a lethal drug.”
It will be quite some time before Apple employees would have to make such a decision. The company will likely take its fight for encryption all the way to the Supreme Court. You can follow iClarified on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or RSS for updates.