Apple opposes FBI order to unlock iPhone

Google CEO Sundar Pichai ​expressed his support for Apple's stance.

This morning Apple took a very public stance on security, as Apple CEO Tim Cook said his company will oppose a court order to assist the FBI in bypassing iPhone encryption. Cook, in an open letter to customers, stated that Apple will not help the FBI bypass the security on an iPhone belonging to one of the alleged shooters in last December's San Bernardino attack.

A judge yesterday ordered Apple to aid the FBI in gathering information from that iPhone 5c. Cook said the request would "undeniably create a backdoor" that would "undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers...from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals."

Apple starting with iOS 8 and Google with Android 6.0 Marshmallow offer full-disk encryption that prevents unauthorized access to a device. With Apple's and Google's encryption method, disk contents are protected behind a passcode that neither company has the ability to bypass. The FBI is concerned that without Apple's technical help, it risks losing data on the phone, which can auto-erase after 10 failed login attempts.

Cook called the backdoor request "chilling" and fears the request could lead to further requests "that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone's microphone or camera without your knowledge."

Google's CEO Sundar Pichai expressed his support for Apple's stance on Twitter this afternoon. "Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users' privacy," Pichai wrote in the first of five related tweets. "We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders," he continued. "But that's wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent."

Experts expect Apple to file an appeal in the coming days.

About Clifford Colby

Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for Download.com. He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.

Member Comments

Conversation powered by Livefyre