Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has called for the US government to retract its demands for a back door into Apple’s smart devices.

In an internal memo this morning Cook thanked Apple employees for their support in the ongoing matter which sees the FBI requesting the firm to unlock an iPhone 5C linked to terrorist shootings in San Bernadino, California.

In the email, Cook stated that while Apple has no tolerance for terrorists, the matter of rolling back iOS security to a point where files could be extracted, despite there being a pass code “threatens everyone’s civil liberties”.

“Starting with iOS 8, we began encrypting data in a way that not even the iPhone itself can read without the user’s passcode,” explained Cook in the memo. “So if it is lost or stolen, our personal data, conversations, financial and health information are far more secure.”

Cook went on to call for the order submitted by the FBI to be dropped saying, “We feel the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act”.

In an op-ed published on Lawfare, FBI Director James Comey responded to the outcry for iOS tablets and iPhones to be made less secure. Comey explained that the authority did not want a universal back door but rather the opportunity to guess the pass code.

“We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That’s it”, Comey explained.

As you may know, once a pass code is entered incorrectly 10 times an iPhone will destroy any data on the handset.

At the weekend the FBI admitted that by resetting the Apple ID password the possibility of doing a fresh iCloud back up was no longer a possibility. This is because to do the backup the FBI would need to update the Apple ID on the iPhone, something it can’t do without the pass code.

Apple has also launched a new section of its website which answers questions users, and the public at large may have about the ongoing saga. One of the questions that was asked was whether it was possible for Apple to comply with the FBI request.

The answer reads, “Yes, it is certainly possible to create an entirely new operating system to undermine our security features as the government wants.”

“But it’s something we believe is too dangerous to do. The only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn’t abused and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands is to never create it.”

[Via – TechCrunch] [Image – CC BY/2.0 thierry ehrmann]


Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.