Tim Cook Refuses To Breach Privacy Despite Apple Court Order

Tim Cook has defined his position when it comes to customer privacy. Despite a court order on Apple to help the FBI with the San Bernardino case, the CEO has refused to breach privacy on the iPhone. However, the FBI has hit back, saying that it is not asking for all privacy to be breached — just that of the shooter Syed Farook.

Due to the iOS encryption, the FBI has not been able to unlock the iPhone 5C Farook owned. He and his wife were found to be the shooters at the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health on December 2, 2015. Fourteen people were killed, with 20 others seriously injured during the attack. Both shooters were killed by police, and just their personal items are left to explain why they did it. Without access to the phone, the FBI is unable to put together all the clues to get a motive and any connections to terrorist organizations.

A U.S. federal judge has ordered Apple to help with the recovery of data from the phone, according to Fast Company, but Apple has refused. Cook does not want to breach the privacy of an individual, saying that all users have the right when they use encryption built into the phone. The encryption was built into the iOS 8 update for all devices running the operating systems. It was designed that if users lost their passwords, even Apple would not be able to crack the encryption, making it harder for Apple to hack devices should security agents order it. All later operating systems would have the encryption automatically built in.

Tim explained the reason behind the ethos during a live conference with WSJ.D, defending the decision. The option of a backdoor to the encryption would make phones hackable by the “bad guys,” according to the CEO. It is impossible to offer something that only the “good guys” would be able to use. It is unfair to users to put them at this type of risk.

However, it has sparked debate. Many say that Apple — and, more importantly, Tim Cook — is helping terrorists. There could be numerous plots that the FBI could stop if it was able to break into Farook’s phone. He may have links to other terrorists, known and unknown. It is also likely that he had no connections, and the attack was a standalone one that he and his wife decided on doing.

According to CNET, some believe Apple is protecting the rights of murderers. Fusilier Lee Rigby’s uncle Ray McClure says that the rights of murderers are put before public safety. Rigby was murdered by two men while walking down the street. The only reason for the attack was his Help for Heroes T-shirt.

There are others who support Apple’s decision. They say that Cook has their best interest at heart, as it means individuals’ information is kept private. This follows the hacking of phones, leading to nude photos of numerous celebrities, such as Jennifer Lawrence, being leaked. Privacy groups have stood by Cook’s decision, especially his remark that being forced to hack a phone would be “chilling.”

Tim Cook is not the only CEO wanting to protect the rights of his customers. Google and Facebook CEOs are also working on better encryption to protect information if their users.

Cook also says that while he protects privacy, he is not above working with the FBI. Apple has continually supplied information that it can to the officials. However, it does not have the software to break into the phone and is not going to create it, as it would be too dangerous to do this. The case is ongoing, but Tim Cook has certainly made his position on privacy clear.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]