Apple Inc. said it will contest a court order to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters involved in a December terror attack in San Bernardino, California.
In a statement Wednesday, the tech giant’s CEO Tim Cook said Apple has been ordered to take “an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.”
“We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”
He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking a new version of Apple’s operating system that will circumvent security features and give law enforcement access to private data.
Calling the order a dangerous precedent, Cook described it as “chilling” attack on civil liberties, Bloomberg News reported.
The CEO warned that ultimately the government could “demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”
Apple’s statement came after a California judge on Tuesday ordered the company to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to the FBI to recover information from a phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino late last year.
“While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products,” Cook said in the statement.
“Ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”
Apple’s strong reaction to the court order dramatically escalates the battle between the tech industry and the US government over how much companies should cooperate in the fight against terrorism, Bloomberg noted.
Law enforcement authorities argue that they need access to private information to track terrorists, while firms like Apple and Google say such a move would violate pledges to keep their customers’ data safe.
– Contact us at [email protected]