Apple chief executive Tim Cook defended his company’s position in its fight with the government in a letter to employees Monday, amid an escalating war of words with the FBI and the Department of Justice.
“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,” Cook wrote. “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.’”
On Sunday evening, Comey argued in a post on the website Lawfare that the FBI’s request — that Apple disable functions on San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone so that agents can try passwords until they get access — is narrow and limited to the one device.
“As individuals and as a company, we have no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists,” the Apple CEO wrote in his letter on Monday. “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.”
Cook said the government should withdraw its request, and that a commission be formed to explore the security and privacy issues raised by advances in technology. Apple is expected to file a response in court later this week.
“Apple is a uniquely American company,” Cook wrote. “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.”
Apple also posted a series of questions and answers for customers on its website outlining the company’s position on the court order filed last week that would require the company to assist the FBI in unlocking the phone.
The company says that it has not unlocked devices in the past at the request of law enforcement, and that it has worked with the FBI in this case to try to find other ways to get information off the locked iPhone.