September 26, 2023
Tim Cook Posts Open Letter to Customers, Refuses to Help FBI Build a Backdoor Into the iPhone

Tim Cook Posts Open Letter to Customers, Refuses to Help FBI Build a Backdoor Into the iPhone

Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:02pm by iClarified · 16857 views
Apple CEO Tim Cook has posted an open letter to customers explaining the importance of encryption and why the company is refusing to help the FBI build a backdoor into its operating system.

The letter comes after a judge ordered the company to help the FBI break into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

You can read the full letter below...

A Message to Our Customers
The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.

This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.

The Need for Encryption
Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.

Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.

For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.

The San Bernardino Case
We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.

When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

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.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

The Threat to Data Security
Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.

In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.

A Dangerous Precedent
Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. 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. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

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 U.S. government.

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.

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

Tim Cook

Let us know what you think of Apple's stance in the comments...

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Tim Cook Posts Open Letter to Customers, Refuses to Help FBI Build a Backdoor Into the iPhone
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clown - February 21, 2016 at 9:14pm
They blocked ifunbox from working and other apps. Try to control everything people do with their phones. Why they refuse many games to work on old devices, because they loose money. Many of these games will work fine, they just dont want your old device to work with them. Why because they want you want you to buy a new one. The person did not even own the phone , the phone was owned by his employer. The must not trust a great deal of people , if their the only ones that get the phone to unlock it.
joker - February 21, 2016 at 9:24pm
It's called protecting those from installing apps that are good, but not good enough like aren't coded properly to prevent hackers from example or if it's a scam.
Dane - February 21, 2016 at 7:35pm
Good for you! I applaud your stance and agree this is adangerous precedent. I hope and pray this does not go forward as the implications are beyond comprehension. This would not stop further terrorist attempts only give the government more power to control the people. Stand strong we support you.
Big Bro..
Big Bro.. - February 19, 2016 at 2:35pm
It's FBI B.S Stand Strong don't do it..
Portclinton216 - February 19, 2016 at 10:33am
If you think terrorism will cease or even be cut back on because a back door key was created to help terrorism then that's just foolish. Terrorism will continue to affect America and their citizens. The FBI has sophisticated technology now, and terrorism is still affecting America. So how would obtaining this key would be any different or decrease the chances of a terrorist act?
That's Classified
That's Classified - February 19, 2016 at 3:56am
There is a solution. There always is. Turn the phone over to Apple. Have them extract the metadata, provided they receive a lawful order in the form of a court order. Turn the data over to the government. The End. OH and by the way, the government has tools that could have detected and averted this tragedy without the use of a silly smart phone backdoor. The United States has the most sophisticated intelligence gathering tools spread across all domains. But we have a saying called “proper use”. Intelligence and law enforcement personnel are prohibited from collecting on US soil without a proper use declaration. That is why this tragedy unfolded. It is the price of liberty, freedom and privacy. But when investigating a crime AFTER it happened is tied up by Tim Cook and his diatribe response with no compromise, well, it just seems like it will satisfy Apple and its own version of corporate security and profit margins...
Digfurka - February 18, 2016 at 11:42pm
Haha. Nice joke. So, no one remembers who is Edward Snowden?
David Gutierrez
David Gutierrez - February 18, 2016 at 10:30pm
You hit the nail right on the head Mr. Cook. The answer Mr. Goverment is: NO TO VIOLATING OUR RIGHTS! Keep a better eye on the crooks, and you wont need Apple's help.
Marc - February 18, 2016 at 7:53pm
Agree I would not agree with weakening the security of the iPhone
lemon4611 - February 18, 2016 at 7:04pm
This situation has now made this elusive code to crack encryption priceless. It is with 100% certainty that a backdoor will be developed even if it's not Apple that does it. Apple doesn't own the brains of every genius on the planet. I say this because ultimately the responsibility for protecting your data will fall on you the end user. Tim's appeal to the customers is admirable but it eliminates common ground. The feds always had the ability to tap your phone back in the days of copper wire and they didn't. Very few abuses were noted in over 100 years. Digital data will at some point have to be accessible and we will have to trust the courts and the system not to violate our rights. Before you all site Washington as corrupt ask yourself how it got that way ? That's right you elected dishonest people because as voters you were to lazy to do your homework and just jumped on the popular bandwagon. Elect patriots that respect the will of the people and the constitution and there is no problem. So as always the problem is you not Washington. Washington is a direct result of you ! get off your lazy asses and change it !
Mike Fasan
Mike Fasan - February 18, 2016 at 8:00am
I agree with Tim cook's position on this matter and support the fact that the government should never be able to supersede privacy! If a suspect is suspect then the government has been watching them for too long for this to be an argument.
apfelstreudel - February 18, 2016 at 3:42am
Kudos, Mr. Cook. IMHO you've got cahunas and your sensibilities are in the right place. Too many legislators are too naive about IT (Dianne Feinstein, to name one) most likely related to their not having had more opportunity to explore it. I'm in complete agreement with your position and hopeful that Apple will prevail in this legal showdown.
Meme - February 17, 2016 at 9:44pm
Why not ask apple to help crack the shooter's brain and find out what the shooter was thinking before the incident.
Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne - February 17, 2016 at 8:22pm
There are two types of people posting on this subject: those who trust the government and those who don't. The people who trust the government are f'in idiots. 'nuf said.
 And you say trust over a risk?
And you say trust over a risk? - February 17, 2016 at 9:08pm
You're so right. Let's blindly follow your method instead. Let's trust the government that they're guaranteed to hire worst lazy presidents just because they choose to do it, no better yet, let's raise prices against everything just because they want to, or to be any more foolish, let's learn to steal just because they made it official to do so now. Boy you're such an Einstein.
Dash - February 18, 2016 at 8:21am
Yeah he pretty much said the same thing you agree with. He said those who trust the government are idiots.
RAV4 Rich466
RAV4 Rich466 - February 17, 2016 at 7:13pm
The person I work with said Apple could write a program to access the iphone and the government can keep it under lock and key like they do with the security code for the nuclear weapons. I have quite back to him please don't tell me you're comparing a phone created by a private company to a nuclear weapon
Bleeeeeeeuaoidbdmsndnd - February 18, 2016 at 3:32am
The software could threaten our security like a nuclear weapon
John Bull
John Bull - February 17, 2016 at 7:02pm
Bravo Apple, kudos to you Tim Cook. We trust apple to look after our data. No ifs no buts, we have our privacy violated so much today. I am grateful to know that Apple is sticking to its policy and that my merger trifling amount of data will stay safe. I can only agree with Tim when he says there is NEVER a one off occasion. Someone will think its ok to keep the unlocking code, well intentioned I am sure but it never works out that way.
Freedom Fighter
Freedom Fighter - February 17, 2016 at 6:49pm
Thank you Tim Cook. Continue to protect our rights and the rights of Apple.
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