Apple Refuses court order to unlock dead Islamic terrorist’s iPhone

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook says his company will fight a federal court order to hack its users in connection with the investigation of the San Bernardino shootings, asserting that would undermine encryption by creating a backdoor that could potentially be used on other future devices.

Cook’s ferocious response, posted early Wednesday on the company’s website, came after an order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym that Apple Inc. help the Obama administration break into an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the shooters in the December attack.

The first-of-its-kind ruling was a significant victory for the Justice Department in a technology policy debate that pits digital privacy against national security interests.

Noting the order Tuesday from federal Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym in California, Cook said ‘this moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.’315071FC00000578-3450382-image-a-18_1455713057326

Cook argued that the order ‘has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.’

Pym’s order to Apple to help the FBI hack into an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino, California shooters set the stage for a legal fight between the federal government and Silicon Valley over a first-of-its-kind ruling.

The order, in which Apple is being directed to assist the FBI in breaking into an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardo shooters, represents a significant victory for the Justice Department.

The Obama administration has embraced stronger encryption as a way to keep consumers safe on the Internet, but struggled to find a compelling example to make its case.

Cook said in the website posting that the U.S. government order would undermine encryption by using specialized software to create an essential back door that he compared to a ‘master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks.’

‘In the wrong hands, this software – which does not exist today – would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession,’ Cook wrote.

‘The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a back door.

‘And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.’

FBI Director James Comey told members of Congress last week that encryption is a major problem for law enforcement who ‘find a device that can’t be opened even when a judge says there’s probable cause to open it.’

The ruling Tuesday tied the problem to the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in a December 2 shooting at a holiday luncheon for Farook’s co-workers. The couple later died in a gun battle with police.314E2AA500000578-3450382-image-a-4_1455711938493

Federal prosecutors told the judge in a court proceeding Tuesday – that was conducted without Apple being allowed to participate – that investigators can’t access a work phone used by Farook because they don’t know his passcode and Apple has not cooperated.