Tim Cook says government should withdraw demands to unlock iPhone, form commission to discuss impli

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2016
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook issued a memo to his employees on Monday, escalating the war of words between his company and the U.S. government, and calling on officials to form a commission or panel of experts to discuss the implications of unlocking the iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooters.




In the memo, Cook called on the FBI to withdraw its demands in court while continuing a public discussion. A copy of the statement from Apple's CEO was published by Buzzfeed News.

"We feel the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act and, as some in Congress have proposed, form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy and personal freedoms," Cook said.

The letter was accompanied by a series of questions and answers, in which Apple asserted that it has done "everything that's both within our power and within the law to help this case." They have been published publicly on Apple's website, in a page entitled Answers to Your Questions About Apple and Security.

Cook cited tremendous public support for Apple in the ongoing saga, telling employees that he's received messages from "thousands of people in all 50 states." According to him, the "overwhelming majority" have written to show their support.




The fight between Apple and the U.S. government escalated last week when a U.S. magistrate judge ordered the company to comply with government requests to help extract data from an iPhone 5c. The handset was used by one of the shooters involved in the San Bernardino terrorist attack, and is password protected via Apple's iOS 9 mobile operating system.

Cook wrote on Monday that critics have called on his company to "roll back data protections to iOS 7" in order to access data from the phone. But he believes that would set a dangerous precedent for law enforcement, and have potentially major security implications for all iOS users.

"Starting with iOS 8, we began encrypting data in a way that not even the iPhone itself can read without the user's passcode, so if it is lost or stolen, our personal data, conversations, financial and health information are far more secure," he wrote. "We all know that turning back the clock on that progress would be a terrible idea."

Government officials are locked out of the handset because, in the midst of their investigation, officials changed the passcode associated with the Apple ID used to back up the iPhone 5c. Had officials not changed that passcode via the Web, the iPhone could have been connected to a known Wi-Fi network and backed up to iCloud, at which point Apple would have been able to access the data in question.

But with the handset no longer able to back up on its own, officials now need the passcode on the iPhone's lock screen itself. And Apple says there is no way for anyone to bypass that without creating a so-called "backdoor" to the iOS platform.

Cook's full letter to Apple employees is reproduced below:

Team,
Last week we asked our customers and people across the United States to join a public dialogue about important issues facing our country. In the week since that letter, I've been grateful for the thought and discussion we've heard and read, as well as the outpouring of support we've received from across America.

As individuals and as a company, we have no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists. When they commit unspeakable acts like the tragic attacks in San Bernardino, we work to help the authorities pursue justice for the victims. And that's exactly what we did.

This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation, so when we received the government's order we knew we had to speak out. At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone's civil liberties.

As you know, we use encryption to protect our customers -- whose data is under siege. We work hard to improve security with every software release because the threats are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated all the time.

Some advocates of the government's order want us to roll back data protections to iOS 7, which we released in September 2013. Starting with iOS 8, we began encrypting data in a way that not even the iPhone itself can read without the user's passcode, so if it is lost or stolen, our personal data, conversations, financial and health information are far more secure. We all know that turning back the clock on that progress would be a terrible idea.

Our fellow citizens know it, too. Over the past week I've received messages from thousands of people in all 50 states, and the overwhelming majority are writing to voice their strong support. One email was from a 13-year-old app developer who thanked us for standing up for "all future generations." And a 30-year Army veteran told me, "Like my freedom, I will always consider my privacy as a treasure."

I've also heard from many of you and I am especially grateful for your support.

Many people still have questions about the case and we want to make sure they understand the facts. So today we are posting answers on apple.com/customer-letter/answers/ to provide more information on this issue. I encourage you to read them.

Apple is a uniquely American company. It does not feel right to be on the opposite side of the government in a case centering on the freedoms and liberties that government is meant to protect.

Our country has always been strongest when we come together. We feel the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act and, as some in Congress have proposed, form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy and personal freedoms. Apple would gladly participate in such an effort.

People trust Apple to keep their data safe, and that data is an increasingly important part of everyone's lives. You do an incredible job protecting them with the features we design into our products. Thank you.

Tim
cincymac
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    I like how Apple is handling this so far. Also doesn't hurt to keep this in the news and take focus away from MWC.  Initial impressions of new Samsung phones appear to be quite positive. http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/02/galaxy-s7-and-s7-edge-hands-on-these-phones-are-so-good-you-can-almost-forgive-touchwiz/
    edited February 2016 schlackcali
  • Reply 2 of 25
    Thanks Tim for your stand.  As I read about this it seems that this is a fishing expedition by the government with little need for the data on the phone.  It is a trojan horse by the FBI to break encryption on the iPhone once and for all.

    The Feds undoubtedly have all the data that has gone out of and into the phone from reviews of cloud, ISP and telcom data.

    We know the motivation of the terrorists.  They destroyed their personal phones and this was a work phone.

    The FBI also had access to a month old iCloud backup.

    This is a threat to the privacy of all of us.  The Feds are being very short sighted here and this will have ramifications beyond this "just one iPhone."
    cincymacschlackcaliSpamSandwichbaconstang
  • Reply 3 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,549member
    This is what leadership looks like Obama.
    anantksundaramibillboltsfan17baconstang
  • Reply 4 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,549member
    Micro-USB in 2016? Micro-SD? Meh.

    And a camera which now doesn't protrude, but actually does protrude still, if you examine the phone.
    edited February 2016 cali
  • Reply 5 of 25
    This is what happens when Government "Experts" do not know what they are doing in the first place. They screw something up and then whine to anyone else about their inability to deal with the problems that they created in the first place. I would get the person(s) who tried to get into the iPhone in the first place up on the stand to explain why they screwed up BEFORE they called for help. This is not Apple's fault - it is squarely in the lap of the alleged "Expert(s)" who did not know what they were doing before they asked for help.
    baconstang
  • Reply 6 of 25
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,882member
    Makes perfect sense. Let's have national open discussion of pros/cons of creating a software patch or tool to read encrypted info inside any iphone. What happens if such tool leaves Apple lab and used by bad people from black mailing, ransom to murder. It can be nightmare for everyone. You know recent incident where hospital had to pay under table or civilized word undisclosed money to hacker to release control of hospital computers and not publish patients information on internet. Bad people won't even leave place like hospital to exploit than think what happens if they gain control over billions of phones.
    edited February 2016 baconstang
  • Reply 7 of 25
    komokomo Posts: 25member
    You are right Tim Cook keep up the good work
    calibaconstang
  • Reply 8 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,549member
    This is what happens when Government "Experts" do not know what they are doing in the first place.
    I saw a hearing of sorts linked to yesterday most likely in Washington where the so-called experts actually did know what they were talking about and all seemed to be supporting Apple. This was from mid-last year. A few of them were former software developers and one security experts. The FBI guys there looking for the info obviously had a totally different outlook, because they clearly are not concerned with privacy like the average person is.
    edited February 2016 baconstang
  • Reply 9 of 25
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,664member
    Tim's southern charm shines through the storm. To translate to Northeast US language: Frak You, FBI. 
    photography guyjony0
  • Reply 10 of 25
    thank you for your service Tim. you are leading the country at a pivotal point in our history.
    cincymackibitzeribillcalibaconstang
  • Reply 11 of 25
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    All Apple has to do here is fight it to the end. If they somehow "lose", which I don't see being possible, then when they create their "special" version of iOS and load it onto the phone..they make sure to forget the part where the phone won't delete itself after x failed attempts. Then once the brute force attack begins, the phone immediately deletes itself and shuts down forever. The end. What are they going to do prosecute Apple? "Oops. We thought it would work. Guess it didn't. Sorry."
    Think again before demanding shit from a technology company.
    cali
  • Reply 12 of 25
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,485member

    This is a classic example of -

    You think you have a problem now, wait till you see solution the government comes up with.

    The government has gotten itself in the sound bit mode so bad they think they can win people over by little sound bit of half truth.

    Saturday should tell the government one thing, people are far angrier about the government than they are about their personal religious belief. Trump won in a bible belt state with two guys talking about how God has pick them to run and they are going to do things in the name of God. They trust Trump over the guys still playing politics and using God's name to help. Keep in mind that Trump is only using the apple to show he support police (did not say the government or FBI) and he is against liberal agenda's which he believe Cook is a social liberal like Bernie. 

    The government under estimated what Apple would do. Apple got ahead of the government in the public opinion polls, Apple got American on its side and the government got all the people who are afraid to come out of their homes unless the government tells them it is okay.


  • Reply 13 of 25
    ibillibill Posts: 392member
    ireland said:
    This is what leadership looks like Obama.
    +1
  • Reply 14 of 25
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    ireland said:
    This is what leadership looks like Obama.
    Imagine how much worse under Chump? I heard some Chump supporters on here blaming Obama for everything yet this Chump is outspoken about the situation and calling an Apple boycott in favor of Korean knockoffs. I don't like Obama but he's nowhere near the next round o' clowns (Hillary, Chump). Bernie seems cool but I stopped voting and paying attention after the 2nd fixed "Dubya" Bush elections.

    ireland said:
    Micro-USB in 2016? Micro-SD? Meh.

    And a camera which now doesn't protrude, but actually does protrude still, if you examine the phone.
    The headline alone admits it's shi*. Of course sammy pays tons for advertising so they'll nit pick at the tiniest detail about the upcoming iPhone instead.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 15 of 25
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member
    ireland said:
    This is what leadership looks like Obama.
    Naive, as are many here. Comey is a Republican who worked under the Rightmost-ever Attorney General Ashcroft during the Bush Administration.

    why would Pres. Obama appoint such a person to head the FBI? Answer, because he had to. No president has any more than lip-service "authority" over the secret police apparatus in the US. The case of JFK proved that. The machinery behind that episode has never been exposed, and it's still in effect.

    before you become president you are given an agenda under which you must work. You lose your taste for leadership after that first "security briefing." It's enough to turn you ashen-faced, so they said about the Pres.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 16 of 25
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member

    ibill said:
    ireland said:
    This is what leadership looks like Obama.
    +1
    -1, and -1 for you. See comment 15 above.
  • Reply 17 of 25
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member

    The meme of the day among the dimwit journalists is that Apple has complied 70 times in the past to provide police with data from iPhones.

    no distinction is drawn between those cases and this one. We need a formula to draw that distinction to answer this confusion.

    Why can't people think any more? Any ideas, Ireland?
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 18 of 25
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,664member
    flaneur said:

    The meme of the day among the dimwit journalists is that Apple has complied 70 times in the past to provide police with data from iPhones.

    no distinction is drawn between those cases and this one. We need a formula to draw that distinction to answer this confusion.

    Why can't people think any more? Any ideas, Ireland?
    We all have ADD. Sound bites work. Headlines work. Plus journalists need click bait. 
  • Reply 19 of 25
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,458member

    ...
    Government officials are locked out of the handset because, in the midst of their investigation, officials changed the passcode associated with the Apple ID used to back up the iPhone 5c. Had officials not changed that passcode via the Web, the iPhone could have been connected to a known Wi-Fi network and backed up to iCloud, at which point Apple would have been able to access the data in question.

    But with the handset no longer able to back up on its own, officials now need the passcode on the iPhone's lock screen itself. And Apple says there is no way for anyone to bypass that without creating a so-called "backdoor" to the iOS platform.

    ...
    This is the point that Tim should hammer home every time he speaks about this. 
  • Reply 20 of 25
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member
    jungmark said:
    flaneur said:

    The meme of the day among the dimwit journalists is that Apple has complied 70 times in the past to provide police with data from iPhones.

    no distinction is drawn between those cases and this one. We need a formula to draw that distinction to answer this confusion.

    Why can't people think any more? Any ideas, Ireland?
    We all have ADD. Sound bites work. Headlines work. Plus journalists need click bait. 
    I have to admit I've become more ADD-ish in recent years, mostly from the hunting and gathering nature of the media environment, including the Internet, I think. So, AADD, acquired attention deficit disorder?
Sign In or Register to comment.