Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, published a worrying letter adressed to customers in which he revealed that the U.S. government demanded their help to hack the iPhone of San Bernardino’s shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Cook said he refuses to obey the order since it would imply creating a software that has “the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession”.
In the open letter, Cook explains that Apple has aided the FBI in the days after the tragedy, putting at their disposal data that was in their possession and engineers to advise the agents. Now, the government asks for something too dangerous with “chilling” implications. In order to hack into the iPhone of the attacker, Apple has to build a backdoor. Esentially, they have to bypass the code, overhaul the system that disables the phone after 10 unsuccessful password attempts. After that, one mistake from their part would be enough for hackers to capture anyone’s data, anywhere.
Appealing to All Writs Act of 1789, FBI wants to impose their methods of investigation on the technology firm, regardless of the dangerous implications this would have on customers. “The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer”, explains Cook.
Apple took a public stand because the company believes that in the near future they will have to respond positively to outrageous demands such as “surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location”.