Apple CEO Tim Cook Takes On The FBI For Threatening Your Data

The government wants to unlock an iPhone connected to the San Bernardino terror attack.

02/17/2016 09:32 am ET | Updated Feb 17, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook has accused the government of asking the tech giant to hack its own users.

Apple is standing up for its right to lock down your iPhone.

In a candid letter published online Wednesday, Apple head Tim Cook blasted the Federal Bureau of Investigation for requesting a customized version of iOS that would allow access to private data stored on an iPhone.

The note is a direct response to a new court order that would require the tech giant to assist in unlocking a device belonging to one of the terrorists who carried out an attack in San Bernardino, California, last December.

"In the wrong hands, this software -- which does not exist today -- would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession," Cook wrote.

"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."

Apple introduced stronger security to its mobile operating system in 2014. At the time, the company said it would not be able to comply with government requests to pull data from an iOS device.

"For all devices running iOS 8 and later versions, Apple will not perform iOS data extractions in response to government search warrants because the files to be extracted are protected by an encryption key that is tied to the user’s passcode, which Apple does not possess," Apple posted on its privacy website.

Of course, debate over the encryption has followed since. Privacy advocates applaud the security measure for protecting customers, though the San Bernardino case clearly outlines the grievances of those who worry over national security. Theoretically, the iPhone in question could contain information that helps an investigation and prevents another attack.

Apple isn't having it.

"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," Cook wrote. "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."

You can read the full letter on Apple's website.

UPDATE: 1:30 p.m. -- The White House reportedly fired back at Apple following the publication of Cook's letter. Authorities aren't asking the tech company to create a "backdoor," a representative said -- they just want access to the single iPhone in question.

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