Apple’s opening statement: ‘Apple has no sympathy for terrorists’

29 Feb 2016

Apple's legal counsel will warn Congress that weakening the encryption of the iPhone will open millions of people up to being hacked by cyber criminals

Apple’s legal counsel Bruce Sewell will tell US Congress tomorrow that Apple has no sympathy for terrorists. He will warn that weakening encryption will open millions of people to possible attacks by hackers and cyber-criminals.

Apple has been ordered by a court to help crack the iPhone of the deceased Syed Farook, who with his wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and injured 22 others at San Bernardino in California.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has already warned that creating a backdoor for law authorities into iPhone devices would be like creating the “software equivalent of cancer”.

Future Human

Sewell will extend Apple’s deepest sympathies to the victims and families of the attacks and will tell the committee: “Apple has no sympathy for terrorists.”

In an opening statement circulated ahead of tomorrow’s committee hearing, Sewell will explain how Apple cooperates with law enforcement and has a team on called 24-7, 365 days a year to assist police.

“When the FBI came to us in the immediate aftermath of the San Bernardino attacks, we gave all the information we had related to their investigation. And we went beyond that by making Apple engineers available to advise them on a number of additional investigative options,” the statement reads.

‘Hackers and cyber-criminals could use this to wreak havoc on our privacy and personal safety. It would set a dangerous precedent for government intrusion on the privacy and safety of its citizens’

“But we now find ourselves at the centre of an extraordinary circumstance. The FBI has asked a court to order us to give them something we don’t have. To create an operating system that does not exist — because it would be too dangerous. They are asking for a backdoor into the iPhone — specifically to build a software tool that can break the encryption system which protects personal information on every iPhone.”

Apple legal counsel warns of havoc

Sewell will tell the committee that building such a software tool would weaken every iPhone in the world.

“Hackers and cyber-criminals could use this to wreak havoc on our privacy and personal safety.

“It would set a dangerous precedent for government intrusion on the privacy and safety of its citizens.

“Hundreds of millions of law-abiding people trust Apple’s products with the most intimate details of their daily lives – photos, private conversations, health data, financial accounts, and information about the user’s location, as well as the location of their friends and families. Some of you might have an iPhone in your pocket right now, and if you think about it, there’s probably more information stored on that iPhone than a thief could steal by breaking into your house. The only way we know to protect that data is through strong encryption.”

Sewell will tell the committee that, every day, more than a trillion transactions occur safely over the internet because of encrypted communications, from online banking to credit card transactions and more.

In the face of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, Sewell will warn the committee that weakening encryption will hurt consumers.

He will ask three core questions:

  1. Do we want to put a limit on the technology that protects our data, and therefore our privacy and our safety, in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks?
  2. Should the FBI be allowed to stop Apple, or any company, from offering the American people the safest and most secure product it can make?
  3. Should the FBI have the right to compel a company to produce a product it doesn’t already make, to the FBI’s exact specifications and for the FBI’s use?

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years