Apple CEO Tim Cook makes his case for why his company doesn’t want to help the FBI unlock San Bernardino killer Syed Farook’s iPhone in a new extended interview with Time magazine — and says the government is trying to set a precedent it can use across the country.
And while Cook has built a reputation for himself when it comes to standing up for what he believes in — he was the first chief executive of a Fortune 500 company to openly say he’s gay — the decision to say no when the FBI asked the company to build a new operating system to crack the phone wasn’t his alone.
“We had long discussions about that internally, when they asked us,” Cook says in the Time interview, published online on Thursday and due to appear on the magazine's cover. “Lots of people were involved. It wasn’t just me sitting in a room somewhere deciding that way, it was a labored decision.”
Cook first laid out Apple’s stance in an open letter published online the day after the FBI got its court order (he says he first heard about the order in the press). Since then, both sides have made their cases in court filings, interviews and public appearances, all leading up to a hearing scheduled in Federal District Court for the District of Central California for March 22.
In the new interview, Cook fires back at government claims that, unless investigators can break locked iPhones and bypass encryption, criminals and terrorists are going to be able to hide from the law — a problem the government refers to as "going dark."
“Going dark — this is a crock,” Cook told Time. “I mean really, it’s fair to say that if you send me a message and it’s encrypted, they can’t get that without going to you or to me, unless one of us has it in our cloud at this point. But we shouldn’t all be fixated just on what’s not available. We should take a step back and look at the total that’s available, because there’s a mountain of information about us.”
While Apple said it will ultimately comply with the decision reached by the courts, whatever that may be, the company doesn’t plan on backing down.
“We see that this is our moment to stand up and say, 'Stop.' and force a dialogue,” Cook told the magazine. “There’s been too many times that government is just so strong and so powerful and so loud that they really just limit or they don’t hear the discourse.”