If Apple complies with FBI demand is it ‘bad for America’?

(AP) Apple CEO Tim Cook said Wednesday that it would be “bad for America” if his company complied with the FBI’s demand for help unlocking an encrypted iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

• NYT: Apple said to be working on phone they can’t hack

In his first interview since the controversy erupted last week, Cook told ABC News that it was a difficult choice to resist the government’s request for help with the iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of two extremists who killed 14 people in the California city in December.

“Some things are hard and some things are right, and some things are both. This is one of those things,” Cook said in a video clip released by ABC News. The interview came as both sides in the dispute are courting public support while also mustering legal arguments in the case.

Federal officials have said they’re only asking for narrow assistance in bypassing some security features on the iPhone, which they believe may contain information related to the mass murders. Apple has argued that doing so would make other iPhones more susceptible to hacking by authorities or criminals in the future.

“We know that doing this would expose people to incredible vulnerabilities,” Cook said. [Full story]

Today’s Question: If Apple complies with FBI demand is it ‘bad for America’?

  • Pearly

    It would be bad for apple

  • Gary F
  • Rich in Duluth

    I like that Apple is pushing back on the government’s order. I think it is important to have a healthy, open debate about privacy and new technology. This may be the time to have a higher court or Congress get involved to better align our Constitutional rights with current technology.

    That said, in this case, Apple should, in the end, get any data remaining on the phone to government authorities. The intent should be to get the data on this particular phone for this particular case. In fact, I can’t imagine that Apple doesn’t already have the necessary software. They created this device and know it, literally, inside and out.

  • Geezer44

    It boils down to this: Which do you value more, your cellphone security or your life?

  • Mr. Toad

    If there’s a way for Apple to get the info off the phone without giving the government a back door to the company’s encryption technology, then yes. Otherwise, let’s remember Ben Franklin’s maxim: Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

  • lindblomeagles

    Make no mistake, Apple’s CEO does not care about the privacy of American citizens OR government intrusion. His motive is protect the creation of his invention at all costs using thematic, traditional, anti-government language emblematic of our culture. Look, let’s actually think about this for a moment. The San Bernardino shooters have ALREADY acknowledged their guilt AND alleged having connections to more individuals that think (and may act) as they did. Why wouldn’t the FBI and other law enforcement agencies ask or investigate conversations the shooters have had???? Seriously, what else are the police supposed to do, say sarcastically, “We don’t believe you shooters,” while ignoring the future safety of more Americans???? The government doesn’t THINK or IS FEARFUL OF people who are just minding their own business. The shooters sent the FBI down this trail, so what is Apple really worried about? Their invention, specifically its duplication by competitors, its drop in sales by consumers, some of the practices that went into Apple’s design and production of said I-phone. We should not support Apple here. Like most American businesses, Apple is not concerned about our best interests as a society.

    • BJ

      >San Bernardino shooters have ALREADY acknowledged their guilt AND alleged having connections to more individuals that think (and may act) as they did.

      You do realize that the shooters are dead, right? They didn’t acknowledge anything.

      • lindblomeagles

        You do realize BJ they left a lot of evidence in their apartment right or did you not read that part of the story at all? Like I said, the FBI had good reasons to ask for the information and Apple, while selling us the First Amendment line, isn’t really worried about that. Deal with it. And while you’re at, try researching Apple.. That company is a global monster.

        • BJ

          Holy mackerel. Shooters who are dead acknowledged something, that’s not possible. As to Apple, good or bad or large or small – would you force anyone to write something they don’t want to.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    With all the data held on smart phones, you might want to think twice about giving the government free access to it. And remember, government computers are regularly hacked…

  • LieutenantLefse

    There are many reasons why I think it’s important that Apple win this case. From a technical perspective, this is not just “unlocking” a phone. The data is encrypted; it’s not supposed to be readable by anyone without the password; that is the whole point of encryption. This is a good thing – encryption is used every day by anyone who does, for example, online shopping or banking. Encryption is foundational to the functionality and security of our modern Internet. This is not merely resetting a password, it’s developing a tool to intentionally weaken a key security feature, and that’s extremely irresponsible. And while Apple would do their best to protect this software, there is no such thing as a backdoor for “just the good guys”. Bad actors will get a hold of this sooner or later.

    From a constitutional perspective, the FBI is trying to use the All Writs Act to conscript a company, against their will, to develop software that simply does not yet exist. This should be anathema to limited-government conservatives. If there’s a law that allows the government to force anyone to do anything, why bother having any other laws or a constitution at all?

    From a legal precedent perspective, once the FBI is allowed to crack this one iPhone, they will want to crack others, and have already said so (they want to open 175 iPhones right now, and not all terrorism related). And once they can crack iPhones, they’ll want Android, and Windows Phone, and Mac and Windows laptop encryption technologies too. And once the FBI can do it, how about other federal agencies? And state and local law enforcement? Worse, how about all the foreign governments where Apple does business? What about when an American diplomat in Russia or a journalist in China gets their phone seized and Apple (or Google or Microsoft) is ordered to decrypt it? After all, there’s no good argument for allowing this capability only for the US government.

    It may well be the case that Mr. Cook is motivated by protecting his brand (although it is not clear if public opinion is really on his side anyways). But in this case, Apple’s corporate interests happen to line up with the best interests of a society that values privacy and liberty.

  • PaulJ

    I don’t understand the issue. Shouldn’t anything be subject to search if there’s court order?

    • LieutenantLefse

      The FBI can attempt to search the phone all they want. What they can’t do – I hope – is force Apple to develop software which weakens the iPhone’s security.

      • PaulJ

        So if I have a strong enough safe, the government can’t compel me to open it?

        • LieutenantLefse

          Analogies with doors and safes are tricky because software doesn’t behave like physical objects. With a physical safe, if one locksmith refuses to crack it the gov’t can always hire different one, or just cut it open with heavy tools. But I’ll try.
          In this case the safe is constructed of a material that cannot be cut or drilled with any tool known to man. It’s a combination safe and the only person who knew the combo is dead. And it has a feature that blows up the contents of the safe if you input the wrong combination 10 times. There is no override, there is no master key. But perhaps the manufacturer of the safe, Banana Safe Co, could dedicate a team of their top engineers (who, by the way, have better things to do) and maybe, just maybe, after weeks of hard work and consulting their original blueprints, find a way to defeat their own safe’s security feature. Should the government have the power to force Banana Co to do that? I say no.

  • jim

    i love it. liberals taking the side of a corporation over government.