The Federal Bureau of Investigation did whatever it could to turn public opinion against the tech giant in a battle over unlocking an iPhone linked to a terror suspect, the Apple chief said.
In the interview, published online Thursday in advance of a March 28 magazine cover story, Cook criticizes investigators for going behind Apple's back and appealing to the American public without first communicating their intentions to the company.
So we were helping. We were consulting [with investigators] in addition to passing the information that we had on the phone, which was all the information that we had. Some more time passed, and they started talking to us about how they might sue, or they may put a claim in. But they never told us whether they were going to do it or not. By then it’s 75 days or so from the [San Bernardino terrorist] attack.
I think most people here felt like it wouldn’t occur, and I felt that if it would occur, I would get a call. And that didn’t happen. We found out about it actually from the press, who were being briefed about it in advance of the filing. That means they elected to not file it under seal, in order to get the visibility on it, I guess, and try to swing the public, and decided not to reach out on it.
And why was that so irksome? Cook elaborates:
I don’t feel ambushed. What I feel is that in a professional way, if I’m working with you for several months on things, if I have a relationship with you, and I decide one day I’m going to sue you, I’m a country boy at the end of the day. I’m going to pick up the phone and tell you I’m going to sue you.
In other words, because Apple had already been communicating with investigators about the iPhone in question, Cook felt betrayed by the court order that would require the company to create a backdoor into the device.
He goes further, accusing the FBI of using this case to set a precedent that would allow government officials greater access to devices like smartphones.
Again, emphasis ours:
I think they picked a case to pursue that they felt they had the strongest possibility of winning. Is there something on the phone? I don’t know. I don’t think anybody really knows.
There's an awful lot more to this interview, and the entire thing is worth checking out because it clearly lays out Cook's position. He discusses major concerns about enabling backdoors into encrypted devices and even mentions an intriguing doomsday scenario about power grids. Read it here.
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