Apple CEO Tim Cook Challenges FBI Order About Unlocking iPhone

appleApple CEO Tim Cook revealed to customers in a open letter that the FBI has requested what Cook calls “backdoor” access to encrypted information of iPhone users.

A federal magistrate-judge ruled Tuesday (Feb. 16) that Apple must aid the FBI in breaking into the phone of Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino, California, shooting in December.

However, the only way to break through an iPhone’s encryption is with a passcode, which Apple does not store on its servers. The judge ruled Apple must provide “reasonable technical assistance” to help it unlock the phone, including developing software that would let investigators guess a passcode as many times as needed in order to break into the phone.

Cook criticized the ruling, stating it would undermine encryption. He compared the concept of such software to a “master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks.”

“In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession,” Cook says in the open letter. “The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

In 2014, Apple updated its iPhone operating system to require that the phone be locked by a passcode that only the user knows. Previously, the company could use an extraction tool that would plug into the phone and allow it to respond to search warrant requests from the government.

Read Tim Cook’s open letter on Apple.com.

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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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