Apple CEO Cook defends encryption, opposes back door for government spies

“Apple Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer and the director of the National Security Agency squared off on Monday in a debate over how much access technology companies should afford U.S. intelligence agencies,” Eric Newcomer reports for Bloomberg.

“Apple CEO Tim Cook asserted his opposition to back doors in data encryption meant to allow intelligence agencies to sneak through, minutes after NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers acknowledged a balance that needed to be struck between safeguarding user privacy and an ability to identify security threats,” Newcomer reports. “‘You can’t have a back door in the software because you can’t have a back door that’s only for the good guys,’ Cook said at the Wall Street Journal Digital Live technology conference in Laguna Beach, California, speaking just after Rogers’ on-stage interview.”

“Revelations about U.S. government surveillance programs have spurred an international backlash that may cost U.S. technology companies an estimated $35 billion in lost sales and contracts by 2016, according to a June 9 report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation,” Newcomer reports. “‘It’s only a matter of time I believe until someone does something destructive,’ Rogers said. He said he worried that the Islamic State could begin to view cyber-attacks as a ‘weapons system.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Whenever you hear that line of horseshit, or the even more desperate “Think of the Children™” bullshit, look for ulterior motives. Fear mongers: Those who use of fear, scare tactics, and emotional appeals in attempts to influence the opinions and actions of others towards some specific end. As an advocate for Big Brother, Michael Rogers is not a patriot. This is a patriot:

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

“Cook said there wasn’t a trade-off to be made. ‘Nobody should have to decide privacy and security. We should be smart enough to do both,’ Cook told the conference, calling any compromise a ‘cop-out,'” Newcomer reports. “‘Both of these things were essential parts of our Constitution. It didn’t say prioritize this one above all of these,’ he said. ‘I mean, these guys were really smart folks and they held all of these things and said all of these are what it means to be an American.’ And privacy would become increasingly important to consumers over time, Cook added: ‘It will become increasingly more important to more and more people over time as they realize that intimate parts of their lives are in the open and being used for all sorts of things.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Too many people do not realize how lucky we are that Tim Cook is CEO of Apple Inc. No matter what else Cook does, as long as he holds his ground on this issue, he’s one of the greatest CEOs in history. We need and are lucky to have a man with a strong backbone to stand up to this constant pressure from misguided government spies who’re hell bent on running roughshod over the U.S. Constitution and U.S. citizens’ rights.

The U.S. federal government should adhere to the U.S. Constitution and governments everywhere should respect their citizen’s rights.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. – Ronald Reagan, March 30, 1961

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! – Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

Visit the Apple-backed today.

A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy:

At Apple, your trust means everything to us. That’s why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled.

Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay. And we continue to make improvements. Two-step verification, which we encourage all our customers to use, in addition to protecting your Apple ID account information, now also protects all of the data you store and keep up to date with iCloud.

We believe in telling you up front exactly what’s going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us. And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us. Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience.

We’re publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why. We’re going to make sure you get updates here about privacy at Apple at least once a year and whenever there are significant changes to our policies.

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.

One very small part of our business does serve advertisers, and that’s iAd. We built an advertising network because some app developers depend on that business model, and we want to support them as well as a free iTunes Radio service. iAd sticks to the same privacy policy that applies to every other Apple product. It doesn’t get data from Health and HomeKit, Maps, Siri, iMessage, your call history, or any iCloud service like Contacts or Mail, and you can always just opt out altogether.

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn’t come easy. That’s why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.


Judge declines to order Apple to disable security on device seized by U.S. government – October 10, 2015
Apple refused to give iMessages to the U.S. government – September 8, 2015
Obama administration war against Apple just got uglier – July 31, 2015
Edward Snowden: Apple is a privacy pioneer – June 5, 2015
U.S. Senate blocks measures to extend so-called Patriot Act; NSA’s bulk collection of phone records in jeopardy – May 23, 2015
Rand Paul commandeers U.S. Senate to protest so-called Patriot Act, government intrusion on Americans’ privacy – May 20, 2015
Apple, others urge Obama to reject any proposal for smartphone backdoors – May 19, 2015
U.S. appeals court rules NSA bulk collection of phone data illegal – May 7, 2015
In open letter to Obama, Apple, Google, others urge Patriot Act not be renewed – March 26, 2015
Apple’s iOS encryption has ‘petrified’ the U.S. administration, governments around the world – March 19, 2015


  1. I support what Tim Cook is saying 1000%! The director of the NSA mentions cyber terrorism as a threat in one sentence, and then advocates for built in back doors in another!? For our national security against cyber warfare/ terrorism we should be eliminating back doors and hardening the system, not designing in security loop holes. I demand access to the best in privacy both personally and in my business. We know there are countries, businesses, organizations, and individuals all across the world who routinely play the Peeping Tom to invade our privacy and gather (steel) valuable information. Our government should not be one of them, and should be doing everything in their power to protect us from them, not building in back doors and loop holes to help them!

      1. Big Al, just hope you are laughing your ass off rather than having a criminal hack your ass off.

        Back doors are bad business because you can get “infected” with viruses, in so many different ways.

  2. Cook wants to pave the wave for criminals and terrorists to harm folks by interfering with legitimate tracking of criminals. He is an accomplice and a enabler for acts of crime. He is a dangerous fool. The next time another big event happens that could have been stopped by effective monitoring of the criminals iPhone, Cook should be held personally responsible and arrested.


    1. I call Bollocks! These spying schemes have nothing to do with terrorists or criminals and never have. The shere scale of them shows this. Logic dictates that the most common subject spied upon is the intended target, and that’s ordinary civilians. This should be glaringly obvious.

      Terrorists and criminals are rarely considered a threat to a state (although they are presented as such), but its civilians are. So states have always wanted to know what their subjects were thinking and whether any threats could emerge from that. States of old have tried to suppress freedom of expression so ideas could not reach critical mass. When that doesn’t work anymore, they switch to managing freedom of expression. When that doesn’t work anymore, they switch to managing people’s ability to come to an informed opinion. In order to be able to do that you have to know what people think in detail. In this day and age that means Big Data to the rescue!

      Before 9/11 some safeguards still existed here and there against wholesale spying on the population, but 9/11 gave the states the opportunity to negate those safeguards. And of course the size of the operation had to come out at some point. If Ed Snowden hadn’t exposed what he found somebody else would have. There are just too many people involved.

      So I applaud Tim Cook for his stance on encryption, and I’ll stick with Apple for that.

  3. Cook knows very well how important privacy is. It is entirely likely that his passionate and uncompromising stand on protection of privacy comes from years of carefully protecting his own privacy (on the issue of his sexual orientation).

    1. I agree privacy is important but it should also be tempered with how that same tech can be misused.. If there is a way to create a system that maintains personal privacy while at the same time prevent criminals from hiding within it, that would be a step in the right direction. Considering only one side of the Security ‘coin’ is just irresponsible.

        1. At least with roads and highways you can close them off or create checkpoints if need be. Currently encryption is more like providing stealthcraft or an underground railway. 😛

  4. I agree with Tim Cook on most things, but he is plainly wrong when he suggests that the Framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights did not imagine a compromise between personal privacy and public safety. The Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches exists side-by-side with express procedures for conducting reasonable searches. From the dawn of the Republic, judges were expected to balance privacy against safety when deciding whether a particular search was objectively reasonable. That Constitutional compromise is hardwired into all subsequent law. The Framers wanted both privacy and safety, certainly, but they understood that it is impossible to raise either value to an absolute without considering the other. That is precisely why the reasonableness of a search is what determines its legality.

    What the Framers did not imagine was a future where it was possible for the enemies of public safety—whether they be ordinary criminals, domestic terrorists, or foreign agents—to immunize themselves against even reasonable searches and seizures. From the days of Washington down almost to the days of Reagan, the bad guys had to keep their records and most of their communications on paper. Even telephones were easy to tap with a court order, since 85% of the local calls and 100% of the long-distance traffic were handled by a single company. Every bit of data in the world that existed outside someone’s mind was subject to legal access (by the defense as well as the prosecution) via a proper search warrant or subpoena.

    In the digital age, no thinking individual keeps any sensitive information on paper or an unencrypted device. Data behind secure encryption is not subject to the Constitutional process of balancing interests to determine reasonableness. It is not only secure from unreasonable searches, but from even the most reasonable searches under the most extreme exigent circumstances.

    MDN may call it horseshit, but there really is a major international trade in child pornography that is financially driven by Western consumers who keep their images behind secure encryption. There really are financial criminals who will never be caught or prosecuted if they can keep their financial records safe from a lawful warrant. There really are hostile states that are benefitting from the ability of their spies to communicate our national secrets via secure channels. There really are groups that are killing men, raping women, and enslaving children in the Middle East and Africa while recruiting in America by encrypted messaging. Some of those same groups really are using those same means to encourage attacks within the United States. There really are corporations that abuse their employees and customers but keep all the evidence in encrypted emails. There really are unscrupulous law enforcement agencies and prosecutors who withhold exculpatory evidence from defendants knowing that they will never be caught because they can keep their digital files secure. All that is really true, and calling it horseshit does not make it less true.

    All of that is really happening because technology has tipped the balance in favor of personal privacy at the expense of public safety. I don’t want hackers to get into my device any more that any of you do, but I do recognize that there really are circumstances when a judge might decide that a law enforcement search of that device is objectively reasonable. In our brave new world, reasonableness does not matter any more. I can do anything I like, no matter how illegal or harmful it may be, so long as I keep all the evidence immune from any lawful search. Somehow, we need to restore the balance without surrendering either our privacy or our safety in the process.

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