San Francisco: Apple has rejected a judge’s order to help the FBI break into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, warning it was "too dangerous" to create such a backdoor to the smartphones.
Tim Cook. Pic/Getty Image
US magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple on Tuesday to provide "reasonable technical assistance" to the FBI, including disabling an auto-erase feature after too many unsuccessful attempts were made to unlock the iPhone 5C.
Federal prosecutors had filed a motion requesting Apple’s help after the FBI failed to crack the phone’s code after the December rampage. Syed Farook, a US citizen, and his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik gunned down 14 people at an office party in San Bernardino, California, before they were killed in a police shootout.
But Apple said it would fight the judge’s order, firing the latest shot in a growing debate over encryption pitting the government against tech companies. "The US government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers," Apple chief executive Tim Cook said. "We oppose this order."
Cook said it was too risky to provide the requested software. "The US government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone," he said.
"In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession," he said.