Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook used the high-profile platform of the company’s latest product launch to make the case against the government in the ongoing and increasingly acrimonious battle over encryption.
Cook sought to explore the broader implications of the dispute, which he has argued is unprecedented and would leave consumers vulnerable to hackers and other cyber criminals. He called the iPhone the most “deeply personal” of devices — and one that is an extension of ourselves.
“About a month ago, we asked Americans across the country to join in a conversation. We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and over our privacy,” Cook said in remarks. “I’ve been humbled and deeply grateful for the outpouring of support we’ve received from Americans across the country and from all walks of life.”
Cook reiterated earlier statements that Apple did not expect to be “at odds with our own government.”
“But we believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy,” Cook said. “We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country. This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility.”
Cook’s remarks preview the legal battle that plays out Tuesday in a federal court in Riverside, Calif., where lawyers for the Justice Department and Apple will argue over an arcane federal statute known as the All Writs Act. At issue in the court case is whether it can be used to force Apple to help federal investigators hack into a phone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attack.
The Apple executive has been waging a publicity campaign for weeks, seeking to influence public opinion in the emotionally charged case. In a letter to consumers and in an interview with ABC World News, he has argued that the government is trying to get Apple to create a master key that would unlock hundreds of millions of devices.
“It is, in our view, the software equivalent of cancer,” Cook said in the interview with ABC’s David Muir. “Is this something that should be created? Technology can do so many things. But there are many things [it] should never be allowed to do.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.