Apple has never unlocked an iPhone for law enforcement, and it doesn't intend to — even in the fight against terrorism. Apple — which is fighting the US government over whether it should unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooting suspects — argued in a letter to customers that the FBI is setting a "dangerous precedent" of government interference with people's privacy.
"We built strong security into the iPhone because people carry so much personal information on our phones today, and there are new data breaches every week affecting individuals, companies and governments," the statement reads. "It would be wrong to intentionally weaken our products with a government-ordered backdoor. If we lose control of our data, we put both our privacy and our safety at risk."
Apple says allowing the FBI to unlock this specific iPhone would give the federal agency the technology to unlock other devices. Vox's Timothy Lee, however, notes that Apple has previously implied there may be a way to give access to just this one device.
Apple's decision has sparked a nationwide debate over the tech company's responsibilities in the fight against terrorism. GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has called for a boycott of Apple products.
Apple argues that the government's request goes too far.
"The order would set a legal precedent that would expand the powers of the government and we simply don’t know where that would lead us," Apple said in the letter. "Should the government be allowed to order us to create other capabilities for surveillance purposes, such as recording conversations or location tracking? This would set a very dangerous precedent."
Read the full statement here.
- Read Apple CEO Tim Cook's February 16 letter on the government's request and the company's decision.
- Vox's Timothy Lee explains the battle between Apple and the FBI over iPhone security.