Apple CEO vows to fight on amid claims FBI has unlocked iPhone

22 Mar 2016

Apple CEO Tim Cook at the Apple event in Cupertino on 21 March 2016

As Apple CEO Tim Cook vowed the company would not shrink from its responsibility to protect the privacy of millions of users, the US Department of Justice has called off a court hearing this week because it claims the FBI has found an alternative way of unlocking encryption of the iPhone without Apple’s help.

In a document filed with the courts, the Department of Justice said that it is testing a method of unlocking the iPhone 5c belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino killings.

“On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone. Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone.

“If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case,” the Department said.

Cook says Apple will not shrink from privacy responsibility

Apple has been steadfast in its opposition to unlocking the iPhone’s encryption or creating a backdoor into devices because it believes doing so could compromise the privacy and trust of millions of device owners.

CEO Tim Cook has described attempts to make the company do so as a violation of the company’s First Amendment Rights. Yesterday, during the launch of new Apple devices including the iPhone SE, Cook spoke with emotion on the matter.

“We built the iPhone for you. We know that it’s a deeply personal device. About a month ago, we asked Americans across the country to join in a conversation.

He added: “We need to decide as a nation, how much power the government should have over our data, and over our privacy. I’ve been humbled and deeply grateful for the outpouring of support.

“We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with our own government. We believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy.

“We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country. This is an issue that impacts all of us and we will not shrink from this responsibility,” Cook said with some feeling.

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