Apple CEO says helping FBI hack into terrorist’s iPhone would be ‘too dangerous’

“Setting up a pitched battle between Silicon Valley and the counter-terrorism community, Apple‘s chief executive said Wednesday that his company would fight a court order demanding the tech giant’s help in the San Bernardino attack investigation, turning what had been a philosophical dispute into a legal skirmish that could have major ramifications for the tech industry.

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said that the FBI request that the company develop software to hack into one of its own devices, an iPhone 5c, used by gunman Syed Rizwan Farook, would set a dangerous precedent that could compromise security for billions of customers. The government, Cook contends, is asking Apple to create a “backdoor” to its own security systems.

“Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them,” Cook wrote in a letter published on the company’s website. “But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create.”

The company will file an opposition to the court order, which was handed down in Riverside on Tuesday. The court order marks the first time Apple has been asked to modify its software to access data sought by the government, according to an industry executive familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Dec. 2 San Bernardino terrorist attack killed 14 people. Investigators said unlocking the phone could provide valuable information about the terror plot and whether Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, received help from anyone else.

Chenxi Wang, chief strategy officer at the network security firm Twistlock, said the court battle would be a seminal moment in balancing “privacy and civil liberty against government data access.”?


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