Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton says Apple’s Tim Cook ‘omitted critical facts’ in encryption stance

Senator Tom Cotton (R- Arkansas) on Monday issued the following statement in response to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comments on 60 Minutes Sunday night:

“Apple is a distinctive company that has improved the lives of millions of Americans. But Tim Cook omitted critical facts about data encryption on 60 Minutes last night. He claimed that Apple does not comply with lawful subpoenas because it cannot. While it may be true that Apple doesn’t have access to encrypted data, that’s only because it designed its messaging service that way. As a society, we don’t allow phone companies to design their systems to avoid lawful, court-ordered searches. If we apply a different legal standard to companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook, we can expect them to become the preferred messaging services of child pornographers, drug traffickers, and terrorists alike — which neither these companies nor law enforcement want. Our society needs to address this urgent challenge now before more lives are lost or shattered.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote in September 2014:

Think of The Children™. Whenever you hear that line of horseshit, 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.

Adhere to the U.S. Constitution.

There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, December 2015

Some truths are universal. Like this one:
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

Visit the Apple-backed today.

Signs point to U.S. NSA as researchers solve Juniper backdoor mystery – December 22, 2015
Apple makes a strong case for strong encryption; some politicians don’t know what they’re talking about – December 22, 2015
Hillary Clinton wants a ‘Manhattan Project’ to cure encryption; Snowden, Andreessen mock – December 21, 2015
Apple launches counteroffensive against UK’s proposed new surveillance law – December 21, 2015
Manhattan DA fires back after Apple CEO Cook defends stance on encryption – December 21, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook opposes government back door to encryption – December 21, 2015
Donald Trump: To stop ISIS recruiting, maybe we should be talking to Bill Gates about ‘closing that Internet up in some way’ – December 21, 2015
Hillary Clinton: We need to put Silicon Valley tech firms to ‘work at disrupting ISIS’ – December 7, 2015
Do not let the government snoops weaken encryption – November 4, 2015
Tim Cook attacks Google, U.S. federal government over right to privacy abuses – June 3, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook advocates privacy, says terrorists should be ‘eliminated’ – February 27, 2015
Apple’s Tim Cook warns of ‘dire consequences’ of sacrificing privacy for security – February 13, 2015
Apple’s iPhone encryption is a godsend, even if government snoops and cops hate it – October 8, 2014
Short-timer U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blasts Apple for protecting users’ privacy against government overreach – September 30, 2014
FBI blasts Apple for protective users’ privacy by locking government, police out of iPhones and iPads – September 25, 2014
Apple thinks different about privacy – September 23, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for government, police – even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
Would you trade privacy for national security? Most Americans wouldn’t – August 6, 2014
Apple begins encrypting iCloud email sent between providers – July 15, 2014
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013
U.S. NSA seeks to build quantum computer to crack most types of encryption – January 3, 2014
Apple’s iMessage encryption trips up U.S. feds’ surveillance – April 4, 2013


    1. “While it may be true that Apple doesn’t have access to encrypted data, that’s only because it’s designed its messaging service that way. ” This is pretty much was Cook said. Did Cotton really not understand it when broadcast?

  1. “we can expect them to become the preferred messaging services of child pornographers, drug traffickers, and terrorists alike”

    And of course the hundreds of millions of people who only want their government to stay the fsck out of their lives.

      1. Or leave encryption at the end-points (e.g. devices, servers) alone and make it illegal to use unbreakable encryption in any transmissions.. This would be similar to you would be safe in your home but not while out in public though you could wear a disguise if you wish.

          1. Who said anything about forced to incriminate yourself.. All I’m saying is that you are secure in your device, like your home.. Once you go public you have no reason to expect the same amount of privacy.

            As for the fifth amendment, it too may be amended like the 18th was amended by the 20th.

            Calling names simply shows your inability to hold a civil discussion.

            1. By your logic your bank details should be sent unencrypted across the Internet, where any intermediate router or switch (of which there are many) could replicate your passwords etc. to any listening device the replicator chooses to build.

              By all means, if that’s the sort of online world you want to use you go ahead. Don’t even think about forcing others to do that though. It’s not all rainbows and fluffy unicorns out there. People will steal your data and use it even if you use encryption that happens to be not strong enough.

              Enjoy living in a cardboard box when all your money disappears.

            2. I never said unencrypted, I said “illegal to use UNBREAKABLE encryption in any transmissions”.. Just as law enforcement may need to use extra effort to identify people using disguises or enhance details in video footage, extra effort should be needed to gain the information in transit.

              I’m all for a responsible balance. Perhaps nothing will change till Apple trade secrets get distributed via Apple devices because they are so secure. 😛

            3. But the unbreakable bit is the important part. If it can be broken in transit for legitimate purposes it can also be broken for illegal ones. Communication is only secured between two endpoints if the encryption used cannot be broken at any intermediate device.

              What’s already on the endpoint is less important. The data there is only at risk if somebody compromises the computer itself. And why would a criminal bother with that if they can quickly hijack a BGP peering, pipe millions of data sessions through a path that allows them to be captured in transit, then simply use the government mandated backdoor key to decrypt every last one of them? Because that is exactly what WILL happen if this ridiculous scheme goes ahead. There is no way to implement a “secure” backdoor. It can’t be done.

            4. I also didn’t say anything about a backdoor key. I am simply making a suggestion that I think is a reasonable balance between law enforcement needs and personal security. Removing risk completely with unbreakable encryption emboldens mid and low tech savvy criminals while at the same time allowing the stream to be decrypted with a considerable effort (no backdoor key) will allow those with enough resources to throw at the problem having to select only those of specific interest (a limited number) to perform work on.

      1. Didn’t realize there were so many ignorant red necks on an Apple forum.

        In my best red neck english….”It don’t make no sense Billy Bob”.

        A company that champions Gandhi, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King. A company whose CEO champions gay rights and actually does something to slow global warming. And still bigoted red necks plague our space. Like I said…Don’t make no sense!

            1. Good one, calling out someone as sophomoric after referring to Obama as “Magic Negro”. Perfect.
              PS, Would you please lose the Yankee’s insignia? I’m pretty sure the ethnically diverse Yankee roster don’t appreciate your racism.

          1. You actually think that Trump, Cruz, Rubio, or Carson can actually make things better?
            What a sad, pathetic, “human” being you are.
            Keep believing in that Magic Republican® that will make it all better.

            1. you idiot, it isn’t about republican vs democrat or conservative vs liberal, since CIA George it has always been about American sovereignty vs globalism….with all your cerebral might, deduct who is the only candidate defending American sovereignty. Who is the only candidate that isn’t a New World Orderly?

  2. How would alll of u suggest the government deals with terrorism and other crime?

    Surveillance is how the government is able to stop terrorism before it strikes. You people are hypocrites, including MDN. You criticize your own government for not doing more prior to 911, then you say they should have no ability to surveil. If tomorrow thousands of Americans were killed in a terrorist attack, you’d be lynching the government.

    The only fear mongering is from you people who think the government is “watching you”. They could give a toss about you.

    Wake up and get a clue MDN and fanboys. Here’s a good example:

      1. You’re a disgusting, ignorant punk. You have no idea. And you certainly didin’t read the article link I posted.

        “They planned to behead the Prime Minister of Canada.

        The investigation started with intelligence officials monitoring Internet chat sites. The suspects were charged under the anti-terrorism legislation[35] passed by Canadian parliament in December 2001 in response to the September 11 attacks in the US.”

            1. Well jerk wad, do you have any idea how many people in this country have more than one gun, drive a pickup, or live in the South? We’re talking citizens in the millions, and believe it or not many are Democrats just like you.

      2. There is no report that says surveillance stops no terrorist attacks.

        It does stop it. You’re confused. You’re talking about media reports regarding the NSA and how they’ve been criticized for not stopping many terrorist attacks.

        At the same time, it’s widely reported that the FBI, CIA, and law enforcement stop terrorism.

        At the end of the day, you have no security clearance and you’re not there. You have no idea how effective the NSA is. And even if it isn’t effective, that does not in any way lead to the conclusion that surveillance doesn’t result in the thwarting of terrorist attacks.

        It does. And it’s needed. Go do some research and wake up.

    1. The issue is one of balance. Terrorists use cars, smartphones, apartments, etc. in planning and carrying out their attacks. Yet why isn’t there a push to ban or have tighter govt control of those other items they use? Because it would negatively impact all the legitimate users of those things.

      The phone company analogy is way off the mark. Yes, you may have an intimate, private conversation on the phone and the govt. may have the right to listen to that conversation, but it ends there. Your personal, private, health, and/or proprietary data don’t reside in a telephone conversation. They are stored in a smartphone waiting for you to access them. . .or waiting for someone else to take advantage of them.

    2. We criticize not doing enough before 911 because there WAS AMPLE information available to avoid it. Thing is your government didn’t WANT to stop them. In fact they did the opposite, they helped them carry it out. Why? Because it is clearly written in the Neocon manifesto…..”We need another Perl Harbour…..”. You don’t get thermite in a cave. You don’t bring mildly burning buildings down symmetrically into their own foot prints. Demolition experts work months to accomplish this…..who would have thunk that all you had to do was set a few fires! You don’t get amateur pilots to do gymnastics with a Boeing passenger plane. You don’t get a small circular hole in the pentagon with not a scratch where the wings and titanium engines would have hit. You don’t get censorship of video showing how the plane hit the pentagon. You don’t get key witnesses dying and committing suicide. You don’t get key engineers conveniently and suddenly dying in a car crash. You just don’t! But why would you want to know the truth, when all you want to believe is the lies.

    3. Ah, I see. The Great Fear™. Sorry man, but that tactic has been used and abused throughout history. My take on this whole thing is that with a widening gap between the Elite and the Masses we’re inching closer and closer to the conditions that brought about many a revolution. The Elite know this, and damn does it worry them. Sure, this tactic will catch a genuine terrorist or two, but don’t think for one second that the motives are purely benevolent. Ed Snowden’s peep behind the curtain blew that myth well and truly away.

    4. I don’t think I can change your strong held opinion, but I hope I can at least correct one of your factual mistakes.

      Look up the report, “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US”. That was a report delivered to the President by CIA 36 days before the attack, detailing Al Qaeda’s plan to use planes as missiles. It included information gathered by a CIA informant who was living with one of the hijackers, up until the day he took part cowardly suicidal murder thousands. Also, look into the series of counterterrorism White House meetings scheduled before the attacks, that were unattended or cancelled by the President. Look up the counter terrorism memos sent by Richard A. Clarke before the attacks, and also read the at least the executive summary of the 9/11 Commission Report.

      I’m not saying every single terrorist attack can be stopped by conventional information gathering. But evidently, 9-11 could have been. There was ample actionable information gathered before the attacks, that apparently fell on deaf years.

      Generally speaking, gathering information isn’t always enough to stop terrorist attacks. Part of it is because no matter how hard governments may try, they will never know everything. No one has the all seeing eye besides God. Governments not only will never know everything, they will also make mistakes, because governments are, at the end of day, just a group of a people.

      If you have to violate people’s fundamental rights to gather information, then what exactly are you protecting? One side standing by people’s rights, while the other side does not, is what makes this a conflict between free people and terrorists. Without protecting human rights, this becomes nothing but a conflict between two rival terrorist organizations. Even if the information gathered proves useful against the enemy, we still lose. You cannot protect freedom by destroying it.

  3. Another neocon; anti-science, anti-regjulation, anti-everything. Except the relentless need to know what you are doing behind your own doors. Freedom- to control the masses including trampling rights.

    Another buddy of those neocon commentors here.

    he can go to hell. And take the other anti-science anit-climate senator Imhofe with him.

  4. Those dimwits in Congress don’t know anything about encryption or any other technology. The government already is snooping into our daily lives way to much. They collect so much data on all of us already, they can’t see the “forest for the trees”.

  5. The real problem with the stance of people like Senator Tom Cotton is that they *REALLY* don’t understand the situation.

    Even if they could get Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the rest to completely abolish encryption in their devices and communications (forgetting for a moment how ludicrous that would be), those who want to have their messages and stored data fully encrypted will have software that can do so. That software has been available to the general public in one form or another since the 80s.

    Apple won’t supply encryption? Well, then just use software to do it yourself! Hell, before Apple started providing it themselves, I was using encryption for data storage and communications. It really isn’t that difficult to do.

    Beyond that, people who want their communications encrypted will choose to use one of the stronger variants of layered VPNs (VPNs inside further encrypted traffic) that spoof and anonymize. What does Senator Cotton propose to do about them?

    Further, there are commercial communications that by U.S. regulations MUST be encrypted (and I’m not referring to banking or any of the other obvious stuff). What does Senator Cotton propose to do about that? Is he going to change the laws and regulations so that those companies and persons (including me) don’t have to have strong encryption on our communications? I doubt it.

    1. Thank you so much for a particularly erudite and clear analysis!

      I would be genuinely grateful if you would address your comments to the members of the UK government who seem to have a somewhat less than clear idea as to how all this hangs together. We, in the UK, are currently going through the same traumatic processes that you are and it is extremely worrying that our Prime Minister seems to have been carried along with this strange idea that “someone” should have the key to the door.

      As a suitable analogy, this will take us back to the days of the “blitz” here in the UK when, after the air raid you went home to find that although you had the key to your front door (and the door might still’ve been there) the house behind it had ceased to exist.

      Good luck to us if this gets through our respective legislative houses.

    2. Well, the political class uses misinformation to misinform an ignorant public. Not the public’s fault; they shouldn’t have to worry about this stuff. It’s not of interest to them.

      But you have a massive problem on your hands: by virtue of using Apple’s products, it’s in the public’s perception that a data breach or whatnot is Apple’s fault. Gov’t can’t get the sweet data they crave to stop them terrorists? Apple’s fault. Apple can’t please everyone in this case but I’d say the customer base is FAR more important.

  6. Let’s put this assertion by Cotton in a non-electronic situation. You are a bank and you provide high security safety deposit boxes to your clients, the contents of which are unknown to you and for which you do not retain a duplicate key. The court orders that you give up the contents of the box but you cannot open it. Does the law require you to hold a key? Instead of a key the box is protected by a combination lock and you do not have the combination. Does the law require you to know the combination? The government must obtain a court order to break open the safety deposit box where they may, or may not, find what they are looking for.

    Message services carry messages. In this case Apple’s devices encrypt them with a key or keys generated by the device. If Apple did not, the user could simply use a third party encryption tool to do the same thing.

    Apple’s products MUST encrypt all messages, otherwise passwords and other sensitive information would be visible to anyone who had access to the networks. Similarly, Apple’s devices must provide robust security to protect that information if the handset falls into someone else’s hands.

    Apple’s point is that they are just a delivery service and the government should not attempt to use them as a proxy – instead the government should pursue the originator or perhaps the recipient of the message.

    Suppose Apple were to provide a back door. How many people at Apple would know how this works? Suppose one of these people is abducted while on holiday in London and flown to Beijing where the secret is extracted. With this secret, the Chinese government may now decrypt all messages from all iPhone-carrying members of Congress. You know they will. They discover that Senator Cotton is having an affair and he is compelled to change his vote on an issue, to China’s advantage.

    Tim Cook is right. It is not Apple’s role to provide the US government with an easy way to obtain the private information of American citizens, or anyone else. If the government wants that information it must obtain a court order and seize the device and decrypt the information on it if they can.

    If Apple is forced to provide a back door, third party encryption tools will be release by software developers around the world within weeks, making the back door useless.

    Has the US government already forced Blackberry to hand over the keys?

    Blackberry was banned from a number of countries run by oppressive regimes because their messaging service was impenetrable by those regimes. Blackberry appears to have caved in and provided back doors in some cases- did they do so in the USA?

  7. I am going to alloborate…because I think the younger crowd needs to learn some stuff. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s Tipper Gore ran something called the Parents’ Music Research Center (PMRC). They saved the children by forcing record companies to put Tipper Stickers on all music (records, cassettes and CD’s) that had explicit lyrics. You see, they saved the children. Don’t you just love liberals without them there wouldn’t be any children around. The Tipper stickers saved the children.

  8. The reason for end to end encryption is to protect personal information like bank account numbers, credit card information, content of personal emails, protect confidential business, corporate, and even government communication.

    If back doors are allowed, lndividual will have nothing to hide, it will be available to whoever has access to the back door; government, police, private investigators, hackers, terrorists, and criminals. Giving access via back door may also allow the planting of incriminating evidence for blackmail purposes.

    Senator: please provide the public with your bank account information, credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes, also publish all your emails; after all you have nothing to hide; and we promise not to use/abuse the information you provide (wink, wink.) 🖖😀⌚️

  9. 1) Cook is saying that if there’s a backdoor criminal hackers can use it and hack into your accounts like your banking info.

    Remember when stupid celebrities using simple passwords got their cloud account breeched, notice no politician admitted they wanted simpler encryption. Instead a whole bunch jumped on Apple saying Apple didn’t protect their customers.

    2) Cook is also saying if you allow USA, UK to do it what about other countries. Would you allow Iran to get access to that mythical backdoor (i.e the can open USA customer phones) ? If people say have a SEPARATE backdoor for every region it would be a MESS. And also can USA open an Iranian backdoor? Will Iran agree to that (i. e allow Apple to give the Iranian backdoor to USA?).
    (I don’t even know if apple sells iPhones to Iran but using it as an example)

    ETC. it’s going to be a tech mess if govt proceeds with their idiocy. there has to be better ways to fight terrorists.

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