Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company will fight an order that instructs it to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to unlock an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino attackers.
In a letter to Apple’s customers, Cook writes that opposing the “order is not something we take lightly … [but] we feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.”
At issue is a court order issued Tuesday by Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the Federal District Court for the District of Central California ordering Apple to, in the words of The Associated Press, “supply highly specialized software the FBI can load onto the phone to cripple a security encryption feature that erases data after too many unsuccessful unlocking attempts.” Wired adds that Apple’s compliance would allow the FBI to attempt to unlock the phone using multiple password attempts—a method known as bruteforcing. But Apple declined, calling for a public discussion, so its customers and citizens “understand what is at stake.”
The phone in question is the iPhone 5c that belonged to Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire at a civic-services center in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people and wounded 21 others. The attack was believed to be inspired by ISIS, though no direct link has been found between the attackers and the Sunni terrorist group.