Apple CEO Tim Cook on encryption, privacy and the battle with the FBI

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For being a behemoth company generally, Apple made headlines in the privacy and security space specifically this spring when it opposed the FBI's request to unlock the iPhone used by one of the gunmen in the San Bernardino attack in December. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at length about the company's decision to not provide the encryption key and privacy as a core value at Apple.

On unlocking the iPhone as a technical vs. ethical issue: "Could we create a tool to unlock the phone? After a few days, we had determined yes, we could. Then the question was, ethically, should we? We thought…that depends on whether we could contain it or not. Other people were involved in this, too — deep security experts and so forth, and it was apparent from those discussions that we couldn't be assured.

"The risk of what happens if it got out, we felt, could be incredibly terrible for public safety. We knew the positioning on the outside would not be public safety. It would be security vs. privacy — security should win….It became clear that the trade-off, so to speak, was essentially putting hundreds of millions of people at risk for a phone that may or may not have anything on it."

On customers expecting security: "Customers should have an expectation that they shouldn't need a PhD in computer science to protect themselves. So I think they depend on us to do some things on their behalf. So with that comes an obligation to stand up [for them].

"Honestly? I was shocked that [the FBI] would even ask for this. That was the thing that was so disappointing that I think everybody lost in the whole thing. There are 200-plus other countries in the world. Zero of them had ever asked this."

On privacy as a civil liberty: "Privacy, in my point of view, is a civil liberty that our Founding Fathers thought of a long time ago and concluded it was an essential part of what it was to be an American. Sort of on the level, if you will, with freedom of speech, freedom of the press. The other thing is how all this data sits out there in different places. I do worry about people not really understanding deeply about what kinds of things are out there about them."

More articles on Apple:

Apple ups workforce diversity: 4 things to know 
Apple launches bug bounty program to search for software security gaps 
GlaxoSmithKline to use Apple ResearchKit on rheumatoid arthritis study 

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