Cook warns of 'incredible vulnerabilities' if Apple follows FBI order

Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook is fighting back against the FBI and Department of Justice, taking the company's encryption battle with the government straight to the American people.

Cook sat down with ABC News in an interview that aired Wednesday evening, but a few clips were posted early.

In one of the clips, Cook is asked whether Apple should make an exception to unlocking terrorist attacker Syed Farook's iPhone.

"I think safety of the public is incredibly important," Cook said. "Safety of our kids, safety of our families is very important. The protection of people's data is incredibly important."

He continued: "The tradeoff here is we know that doing this could expose people to incredible vulnerabilities. This is not something that we would create. This would be bad for America. It would also set a precedent that I believe many people in America would be offended by. When you think about those, which are knowns, compared to something that might be there, I believe we are making the right choice."

Apple has maintained that the FBI hasn't shown that it's certain about whether the information on Farook's device has any value to its investigation. For its part, the FBI has said it wants to gather as much information from the phone as possible and needs Apple's help to do so.


Interviewer David Muir asked Cook if he ever thinks about whether another terrorist attack might be prevented by breaking into the phone.

"David, some things are hard. And some things are right. And some things are both. And this is one of those things," Cook responded.

The final clip ABC released before the interview's airing dealt with communication between Apple and the government - or lack thereof.

Muir asked Cook, who has discussed privacy and security with President Barack Obama in the past, whether he was disappointed there wasn't more dialogue with the administration before the Department of Justice issued a motion late last week.

Cook simply stated: "Yes."

He then elaborated that he thinks there should have been more dialogue and that Apple didn't find out about the DOJ's move from the government.

"This filing - we found out about the filing from the press, and I don't think that's the way the railway should be run," he said. "And I don't think that something so important to this country should be handled in this way."

Update: In the full interview, Cook said, "This case is not about one phone. This case is about the future," again reiterating that Apple is resisting because of concerns it would set a precedent as well as put "hundreds of millions" of Apple users at risk.

Cook said Apple thinks of the software the government wants it to build as the "software equivalent of cancer." He said that if Apple knew of a way to get information on the iPhone, other than the solutions it's already provided to the government, and without putting other users at risk or setting a dangerous precedent, it would do so.

While Cook is hopeful the situation will work out – he even plans to speak with President Obama about it – he also said that Apple is willing to take its case all the way to the US Supreme Court.

Lead image credit: Valery Marchive (LeMagIT)/Wikimedia Commons

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.