Apple CEO Tim Cook has defended his company's decision to refuse an FBI demand to help crack an encrypted iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. To do so would be "bad for America," said Cook.
"This is not about this phone," Apple chief Tim Cook said during an interview on US broadcaster ABC News on Wednesday. "This is about the future. It is a precedent that should not be done in this country, or in any country."
The FBI wants Apple's help hacking the iPhone of US citizen Syed Rizwan Farook. Along with his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik, Farook gunned down 14 people and wounded 22 others at the San Bernardino county health department in December, an attack believed to have been inspired by the so-called "Islamic State."
While the San Bernardino case is Apple's most high-profile legal fight with the US government, the company is battling the government over unlocking devices in at least 10 cases.
When questioned about how he felt about Apple taking the stand with the chance that information on Farook's iPhone might prevent another terrorist attack, Cook admitted that "some things are hard and some things are right. And some things are both. This is one of those things."
'Equivalent of cancer'
Cook expressed sympathy for families of the shooting victims, and said that Apple had provided engineers and technical advice to authorities investigating the case.
However, he said authorities were now asking the company "to write a piece of software that we view as sort of the equivalent of cancer."
In a separate interview on Wednesday, CIA director John Brennan said that he supported the FBI's side in the high-profile battle.
Speaking with National Public Radio, Brennan said the public would never accept criminals or terrorists having exclusive access to a physical storage box, and asked why an encrypted phone should be treated any differently.
av/cmk (AP, Reuters, AFP)