Yesterday morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook published an open letter, explaining the company’s intention to fight a court order issued by a U.S. federal judge that forces Apple to give to the FBI the tools to bypass the iPhone passcode of Syed Farook, the perpetrator of the shooting in San Bernardino, California.
The San Bernardino attack occurred on December 2, 2015. It consisted of a mass shooting and an attempted bombing of a community for disabled people in the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, causing the death of 14 people and 23 injured. During a shootout with the police, the two perpetrators - Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik - were killed. President of the United States Barack Obama defined the shooting as an act of terrorism.
Being able to access the terrorist’s smartphone could provide valuable details and this is the reason why the federal officials assigned for the case demanded that Cupertino engineers create a less secure version of the operating system iOS that contains a secondary access (backdoor). This would allow investigators to bypass the 4-6 digit passcode of the perpetrator’s iPhone 5C, and avoid that the device automatically erases the data within.
However, smartphones store our personal information so we, as consumers, expect that technology companies do whatever it takes to protect our data. Following the NSA scandal, Apple has equipped its smartphones of an encryption system that not even Apple is able to bypass.
Because of that, the U.S. government demands that Apple should build a specific software that could be used just once, just for one smartphone. But Tim Cook is not on the same page: «The U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices […]. No reasonable person would find that acceptable».
Along with Apple, Google CEO Sundar Pichai explains, in a series of tweets, that technology companies should give their client’s data to law enforcement when required to, however, companies should not be asked to create a backdoor for the government.
Although Apple is sympathetic to the entire event, Tim Cook explains: «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. While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect».