Apple's Cook opposes order to unlock iPhone linked to San Bernardino shootings

Apple CEO Tim Cook is once again in the midst of a showdown against law enforcement authorities looking for help in accessing data from one of the company's devices.

A California judge ordered Apple to unlock an iPhone 5c belonging to one of the terrorists in December's shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. The handset's owner, Syed Farook, was killed by police along with his wife in a shootout.

Cook posted a public letter claiming his company would oppose the judge's order to help the FBI unlock the phone.

"The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers," Cook wrote in a lengthy letter posted on Apple's site. "We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand."

"The moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake."

Cook earlier this month publicly rebuked Obama administration officials who recently visited Silicon Valley to discuss encryption policies with tech leaders, as reported by The Intercept. Apple's chief said the administration should make a blanket statement saying "no backdoors," which would mean overruling requests from some high-level officials and others that tech companies build pathways of special access for law enforcement into otherwise unbreakable code.

Cook's backers agree that such backdoors are inevitably vulnerable to hackers outside law enforcement, while others -- including AT&T's Randall Stephenson -- have suggested that position oversteps the bounds of private companies.

"I don't think it is Silicon Valley's decision to make about whether encryption is the right thing to do," Stephenson said last month. "I understand Tim Cook's decision, but I don't think it's his decision to make."

Cook has reportedly confirmed that Apple will appeal the decision in the San Bernardino case.

For more:
- see this open letter
- read this New York Times report

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