In this Sept. 11, 2013, file photo, an Apple employee, right, instructs a journalist on the use of the fingerprint scanner technology built into the company's iPhone 5S during a media event in Beijing. The latest iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones have fingerprint IDs that make it easier to unlock phones. Instead of typing in the four-digit passcode each time, you can tap your finger on the home button. (AP/Ng Han Guan)
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"We feel the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act..."
Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out a memo to all of the company's employees early Monday morning in which he reaffirmed Apple's decision to fight the federal court order demanding that it aid the FBI in bypassing one of the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone security functions.
In the memo, which was published by BuzzFeed News, Cook referred to "the outpouring of support we’ve received from across America" as he thanked the employees for their own expressions of support during the intense national conversation regarding "law enforcement, national security, privacy and personal freedoms."
"This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation, so when we received the government’s order we knew we had to speak out," Cook wrote in the memo. "At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties."
Although he expressed support for the government's fight against terrorists and for its efforts to protect national security, Cook affirmed Apple's efforts to improve its customers' security and privacy as threats become increasingly more common and "sophisticated" with advances in technology:
Apple is a uniquely American company. It does not feel right to be on the opposite side of the government in a case centering on the freedoms and liberties that government is meant to protect. Our country has always been strongest when we come together. We feel the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act and, as some in Congress have proposed, form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy and personal freedoms. Apple would gladly participate in such an effort. People trust Apple to keep their data safe, and that data is an increasingly important part of everyone’s lives.
Cook's memo comes one day after FBI Director James Comey issued a press release in which he asked the American people to "take a deep breath" and thoughtfully reflect upon the issues presented in this case:
Although this case is about the innocents attacked in San Bernardino, it does highlight that we have awesome new technology that creates a serious tension between two values we all treasure — privacy and safety. That tension should not be resolved by corporations that sell stuff for a living. It also should not be resolved by the FBI, which investigates for a living. It should be resolved by the American people deciding how we want to govern ourselves in a world we have never seen before. So I hope folks will remember what terrorists did to innocent Americans at a San Bernardino office gathering and why the FBI simply must do all we can under the law to investigate that. And in that sober spirit, I also hope all Americans will participate in the long conversation we must have about how to both embrace the technology we love and get the safety we need.
Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter
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