In what seems to be trending news over the past week or so, Apple directly defied the US government by denying to provide back-end access to an iPhone. The CEO of the Cupertino company sent an email earlier today with the subject line ‘Thank you for your support’ out to employees regarding this.
We reported earlier how Apple was ordered by a court to provide a back door for the FBI to the iPhone 5c belonging to terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook who had a hand in the attack on San Bernardino. It was obvious that the company would hold its ground and Cook’s excuse about why this sort of thing couldn’t be entertained made sense to everyone.
But the government kept throwing stuff at the company and thankfully, until now, Cook has been successfully been dodging each effort graciously. To gain access to data on Farook’s phone, the government wants Apple to roll back security on the iPhone 5c all the way to how it was on iOS 7. Apparently, these older versions of iOS allowed the company to extract information from devices even though they were locked with a personal pin code.
This news sparked up a lot of controversy. Some people supported Apple’s views wholeheartedly while others tied the tech giant to terrorist organisations. Regardless, Apple seems to be more determined than ever in its fight againts the civil authorities.
The FBI, over the weekend, admitted that it had hastily reset the Apple ID password of the recovered phone. This resulted in the removal of the possibility that it could connect to Apple’s servers and perform a fresh iCloud backup. The backup could’ve been of good use for the FBI, but that door is closed now.
The government has since been forcing the smartphone manufacturer to help the officials break into the culprits phone. But Apple is strong in its denying saying that this one door could lead to compromising the privacy of millions of people around the globe.
Cook, for the first time, also highlighted the company’s action plan to move forward. He believes that a commission should be formed to discuss how intelligence, technology and civil liberties should interact.
Here’s the whole email Cook sent to his employees:
Subject: Thank you for your support
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.