Steve Jobs’ former publicist: Apple got PR wrong in fight against U.S. government overreach

“The publicist who helped Steve Jobs launch the first Macintosh in the 1980s says Apple failed to get ahead of the story in its iPhone encryption fight with the FBI,” Amina Elahi reports for The Chicago Tribune. “”

“[Andy] Cunningham led communications for the first Macintosh launch in 1984 and was portrayed by Sarah Snook in Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs. She’s scheduled to be in Chicago April 7, speaking at Merchandise Mart tech hub 1871 about how innovative companies should be marketed,” Elahi reports. “She thinks Apple hasn’t done enough to convince people what’s at stake. ‘Everybody talks about this being a privacy issue and, to me, it’s not privacy at all,’ she said. ‘It’s a precedent case.'”

“Apple should have worked harder to make the debate about the precedent it would set for future government actions to coerce private companies, she said. ‘You could imagine a situation in China, for example, where the government wants a company to develop a bomb that they don’t want to develop,’ Cunningham said,” Elahi reports. “If Steve Jobs were heading Apple today, Cunningham suspected he would probably take the same side of the debate that Cook has — but that Jobs would differ in one key respect. ‘I think he would’ve spent more time framing the issue for the (public) than I think they’ve done so far,’ Cunningham said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re too close to this and have cover this far too extensively to say whether or not Apple effectively established with the general public that this is about setting a very bad precedent. What do you think?


  1. Frankly, don’t agree; Tim Cook and team have explained in extremely clear language what was at stake with the encryption issue; do agree that Steve Jobs would have taken the same stance.

  2. Here comes the egotistical navel comment from the article:

    “”This isn’t about their customers anymore,” O’Brien said. “This is about their rights as Americans and American corporations to control and keep our data private from the government.””

    Wow, Apple’s customers are global but that’s not important, it’s about citizens of a certain country. It’s no surprise that this country has become a threat to global security with an approach like that.

    I guess humans don’t count anymore, just those deity like creatures from a certain country.

    And so the empire continues to crumble under it’s own weight of arrogance.

    1. Have to agree. I used to live under totalitarian communist state and my parents and grandparents were terrorized by NKVD and its follower KGB ja hate a possible situation in a future when similar organization would have an access to my data and me or my future children killed just because FBI wanted their precedent.

    2. Very well put. Security is a global matter.

      This case was triggered by one particular shooting in America, but the implications of weakening iPhone security will concern many more Apple customers than just those who live in the US.

      If Apple ends up being forced to build in a back door into future devices for the FBI, then Apple’s products will be tarnished in the eyes of the rest of the world. It’s hard to predict how that would affect sales. Sales would inevitably be diminished, but nobody could predict by how much.

      I can’t imagine the Chinese government allowing iPhones to be sold domestically with an FBI back door installed, but of course I would not be at all surprised if they mandated that there must be a Chinese back door now that the Americans have shown that it can be done… and then a European back door … and then an Indian back door … and so on.

      1. Or a British back door. The British government are trying to force through the Investigatory Powers Bill that will make hacking a suspects electronic devices legal and force companies to be able to “remove encryption they have applied”. In other words a company would need have to have a back door in their encryption. Be afraid, be very afraid.

      2. I’ve actually been thinking recently of a hypothetical solution where Apple gives a skeleton key to all the governments. I call it code 1111. It would be followed by a code 2222, that would allow access to any iPhone provided it corresponds to the personal ID number of an iPhone that is being hacked and it’s location.

        The code would allow a government to access any iPhone under their jurisdiction (i.e. sold in that country) provided that the iPhone is in their jurisdiction (i.e. the GPS locator indicates that the iPhone is in that country).

        One catch, using that code will allow access to the data on the phone, but will cause the iPhone to self-destruct when used.

        It might not be a viable solution but certainly it is ideas like this that Apple might consider looking at.

    3. Apple is an American company, and America is the only country in history that was created specifically to protect the rights and autonomy of it’s people. This is in our founding documents. So naturally it makes sense to frame the argument within the context of American values, seeing that no other country has these same guarantees. Not even the “enightened” European ones. China? Russia? Saudi Arabia, etc.? Don’t even think about it. If those peoples want to lay claim to the same moral imperatives that we enjoy as our Inalienable Rights, they need to collectively rise up and do something about their own governments –– like the American Framers did 240 years ago. Suck it.

      1. Check the ego, John. Other democratic nations learned from the USA’s government and implemented constitutions that are in many cases better and more comprehensive.

        Moreover, Apple is just a corporation. If they can’t comply with the law of the land, then they lose access to the market. You should realize that like any other CEO, Cook has been fully willing to cowtow to whatever China demands of Apple, because the sales are just too great to pass up. Can you confirm that Apple doesn’t already produce a back-door-enabled iOS specifically for the Chinese market? You might be surprised.

        1. Parroting the fake news about a supposed Chinese connection is one of the goofiest zombie stories of the last several years. Raving paranoia is understandable; it’s just not very admirable (SEE Beck, Glenn. SEE ALSO “Edward Snowden ran to Moscow and gave all his tape drives to Russia.”)

      2. Not quite accurate, I must say. With respect to the protection of personal privacy against government, as well as corporate intrusion, America is quite behind many European countries, where automatic data harvesting and sharing, which is at the core of many business models, starting with Google, Facebook and Amazon, is simply illegal.

        To quote someone on this forum, “Suck it.”…

    4. You are over analyzing the statement and jumping to conclusions. And you misunderstood. She Apple are Americans and an American corporation, she was not taking about any customers. This is an American company being coerced (if that’s the right word) by American government agencies.

    5. Much as I agree with your point Road Warrior…

      This specific case applies to the USA at the core of the FBI’s FAILure in this case. The US Constitution specifically FORBIDS what the FBI is demanding. The FBI has therefore been attempting COERCION, an appeal to emotion, in an attempt to subvert the US Constitution.

      When this issue hits the international human realm, expect my support there as well. But for now, it has NOT.

      1. Hey Derek, quite the issue isn’t it? You are right to a degree, the case is specific to your country, but the iPhones are specific to the world. A back door would have implications for Apple’s global customers.

        I agree this has been an attempt at coercion.

        Always a pleasure to read your posts Derek, keep ’em coming.

        1. Apple has made it clear that this WILL affect the world, if the FBI here in the USA manage to screw this up in favor of a surveillance state. For now, they’ve stepped off the path of stupid. We’ll see if they jump back on again.

          And yes, it’s great to have you providing your perspective!

          1. Awww come on Derek, let’s split some hairs and be precise.

            You say “For now, they’ve stepped off the path of stupid. We’ll see if they jump back on again.”

            I say, that they are still on the path of stupid, they’ve just stopped moving.

            Can’t tell you how much I’m laughing right now. Hope you will too when the crowd goes…

            “So what is it, are they off the stupid path, or just not moving on it anymore?”

            We might end up with a Nobel prize for this one.

            Happy Easter!

    6. I have been incredibly impressed at the calibre of replies from the MDN community that I have read regarding this issue.

      Rasmus, your personal perspective is very touching. You know exactly what we are facing here and the alternative is scary.

      John Smith, I’m glad others have replied to your post. That country doesn’t need to be the only one though, it needs to be part of a team of countries that are focused on the planet. This nationalistic beating of the chest is useful, but a global perspective is what is going to be required to guide us for a happy and bright future, in my humble opinion of course.

      Thanks again everyone, this is a good reminder as to why I used to come here for.

  3. This is going to be an ongoing issue so better to run a smart marathon than the 100 metres.

    Also this isn’t as issue that involves all of the American public just those whose opinions will matter over time. Be they Democrat or Republican, a potential Supreme Court Justice or a first year law or journalism student etc.

  4. It ain’t over till it’s over and arguments can be expanded, added and enhanced with and in time.

    Second, if civil rights violations, privacy and conscription of a company to do the government’s work aren’t “framing enough of the precedent issue for the public”, they will certainly be the basis of that argument which needs to be nailed more with the courts and legislators – again, a long process that will allow much argument.

    Apple’s legal dream team can and will do.

  5. Tim Cook has gone out of his way to present intelligent and compelling arguments in Apple’s defense – for those who have been paying attention. But the great unwashed need all that wisdom wrapped up in a plain down to earth sound bite. Steve Jobs, the showman that he was, had an instinct for that kind of thing that perhaps no one else at Apple has. He may have communicated the issues slightly better. We’ll never know.

  6. I think Apple should have been faster putting out a simple message to why helping the FBI posed a problem. Like Donald Trump, many people understood the story poorly: thought the issue involved only the shooter’s iPhone and would be an easy thing for Apple to accomplish.

  7. OMG. Another marketing expert who pretends that translates into management. NO IT DOES NOT.

    Apple should have worked harder to make the debate about the precedent it would set for future government actions to coerce private companies.

    Tim Cook DID THAT!

    And of course Ms. Cunningham ENTIRELY ignores the actual LEGAL issues at hand: The First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution, the actual CORE of FAILure of the FBI’s case.

    Marketing folks: Please, make the effort to KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT instead of just taking advantage of another opportunity to chatter mindlessly. Yes, that’s meant as an insult. Sheesh.

  8. So, if the Transamerica building falls or burns from a terrorist attack, or if his new iHole is destroyed, I’d like to see Tim Cook defend his position: Yes MY product is more important than Your life.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.