Apple CEO Tim Cook says iPhone-cracking software the ‘equivalent of cancer’

“In an exclusive interview with ABC News today, Apple CEO Tim Cook told ‘World News Tonight’ anchor David Muir that what the U.S. government was asking of the tech giant — to essentially create software enabling the FBI to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters — amounted to the ‘software equivalent of cancer,'” Enjoli Francis reports for ABC News.

The only way to get information — at least currently, the only way we know — would be to write a piece of software that we view as sort of the equivalent of cancer. We think it’s bad news to write. We would never write it. We have never written it — and that is what is at stake here. We believe that is a very dangerous operating system. — Apple CEO Tim Cook

“Last week, at the request of the Justice Department, a federal judge told Apple to assist law enforcement. However, the tech giant refused and vowed to fight the order, sparking a continuing fight between federal authorities and Silicon Valley. Cook today called the issue ‘complex’ but said the creation of such software would put hundreds of millions of customers at risk and ‘trample’ civil liberties,” Francis reports. “‘If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write — maybe it’s an operating system for surveillance, maybe the ability for the law enforcement to turn on the camera,’ Cook said. ‘I don’t know where this stops. But I do know that this is not what should be happening in this country.'”

“Cook said that the issue was not just about privacy, but also about the public’s safety,” Francis reports. “‘This case is not about one phone,’ Cook said today. ‘This case is about the future. … If we knew a way to get the information on the phone — that we haven’t already given — if we knew a way to do this, that would not expose hundreds of millions of other people to issues, we would obviously do it. … Our job is to protect our customers.'”

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MacDailyNews Take: We are very lucky to have Tim Cook as CEO of Apple Inc.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says iPhone-cracking software the ‘equivalent of cancer’ – February 24, 2016
Apple vs. FBI iPhone battle shows users remain the weakest link in security – February 24, 2016
Apple’s fight with U.S. could speed development of devices impervious to government intrusion – February 24, 2016
Apple to argue that FBI court order violates its free-speech rights – February 24, 2016
Apple, the U.S. government, and security – February 24, 2016
Congressman Ted Lieu asks FBI to drop demand that Apple hack iPhones – February 23, 2016
In the fight to hack iPhones, the U.S. government has more to lose than Apple – February 23, 2016
Here are the 12 other cases where the U.S. government has demanded Apple help it hack into iPhones – February 23, 2016
John McAfee blasts FBI for ‘illiterate’ order to create Apple iPhone backdoor – February 23, 2016
Some family members of San Bernardino victims back U.S. government – February 23, 2016
Apple supporters to rally worldwide today against U.S. government demand to unlock iPhone – February 23, 2016
U.S. government seeks to force Apple to extract data from a dozen more iPhones – February 23, 2016
Apple CEO Cook: They’d have to cart us out in a box before we’d create a backdoor – February 22, 2016
Tim Cook’s memo to Apple employees: ‘This case is about more than a single phone’ – February 22, 2016
Obama administration: We’re only demanding Apple hack just one iPhone – February 17, 2016


  1. It’s a polarising issue like none other, but if the Feds have their way…society and the rule of law will slowly erode, until one day we will be no longer polarised, but uniformly humbled by a monolithic system of surveillance — a psychic slavery exactly as envisioned by George Orwell.

    1. the ultraliberals, once they dominate both houses, judicial and exec branch, should just nationalize the telecom industry and spare we masses the trouble of having to deliberate such complex issues. it just hurts like hell to have to think so damned much. besides, after the dog ate my thinking cap, I’ve found it’s a lot easier to speak before i actually consider an issue, that is, if i chose to consider at all.

  2. If the FBI gets it way you can forget security from a commercial vendor. It will be over.

    I’m glad Apple is fighting this. You know Microsoft and Google bend over backwards for the feds, that’s pretty much a given considering the views of respective power players in each organization.

    They might be the last Titan of industry who hasn’t folded like a house of cards and given in to the growing police state.

  3. There are some countries (not so friendly to the US) that will be very unhappy if they see Apple hand over the software to the Feds and not provide a copy to them. Countries capable of providing tremendous pressure on Apple.
    Once the software exists, you can’t just tell other governments that it doesn’t.
    I’m proud of you Tim for taking such a risky stand.

    1. And a we all know, any and all software can easily find its way to any place in the world. I can virtually guarantee this: on the day after Apple delivers this custom-made, crippled iOS to the US law enforcement, for “Just this one iPhone, just this one time”, that day the iOS will miraculously appear China, Iran, Russia, Israel, North Korea… It is a virtual impossibility that a government (especially American) has the capability and intelligence to protect its data.

  4. Um, the “software equivalent of cancer” and the “equivalent of cancer” seem like two quite different things. Misquoting it as saying the “equivalent of cancer” (as I also heard on a local TV news broadcast) invites treating Cook as a kook.

  5. I loved how he worked “children” into it. Who’s going to argue against protecting children? How many times have we heard law enforcement speak out against encryption for the safety of our children from pedophiles and kidnappers? By making the case that starting down this road could eventually enable these types of people to access your data and obtain information on your family, he’s throwing it back in their faces.

    Weaken encryption and security doesn’t guarantee you’ll learn anything about a perpetrator, it pretty much does guarantee that at some point in time someone will be able to access your data whether you want them to or not.

  6. Wow, it is so nice to near an intelligent conversation that involves a matter of great interest to me. I so agree that after Mr. Cook retires, his place is in public service, perhaps in the cabinet, as the tech secretary, of President Sanders. All one has to do is imagine a world without controls and think how it would destroy personal freedom by having access to our every thought or movement.
    I like him too much to suggest he run for President. Being at the beck and call of the American public is something I would not wish on anyone.
    Hugh Massengill,

    1. As much as the world (and America) would likely be a better place in such a situation, I think the likelihood is close to zero that Sanders would even get a nomination, let alone win the American presidency. In the recent presidential elections, the winner was always the one with more money to spend.

  7. Did anyone else notice Tim’s barely concealed anger, bordering on rage, that the FBI did not even think to notify Apple that they were about to take this to a judge instead of trying to work this out privately with Apple first? I think he’s really pissed. If anyone had any doubts about Apple’s resoluteness on this issue I think those doubts can be put to rest.

  8. Tim Cook is absolutely correct. For example, my wife, my daughter, my Granddaughter and I has iPhones. Now if he creates the key to unlock the phone, my people who I love the most will be exposed to the “bad guys”. That being said, I am sure there are other families that has iPhones will be exposed. To go on a bigger scale, there are military, first responders and other people that will be vulnerable. The bad guys will have a big advantage to terrorize us more. Not only, to all the persons that gave up their lives to protect our civil liberties will all be in vane. It is about public safety, not only in the US but in other countries, and to have our First Amendment rights to be trampled on that the found persons of our country gave us. To put it simply: “The needs of the many, out weigh the needs of the few or the one.”

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