Appearing on 60 Minutes on Sunday, Apple CEO Tim Cook passionately defended Apple’s support of encryption on iOS devices. When asked about terrorists relying upon encrypted communications to steer clear of surveillance, Cook arguably danced around the question and said that Apple has no problem cooperating with authorities to combat terrorism.
Nonetheless, Cook explained why the company’s uncompromising stance on encryption isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
The underlying problem, Cook articulated, is that phones today are filled with all types of private information, from health and financial information to intimate conversations with family and coworkers.
“Users should have the ability to protect that information,” Cook said, “and the only way we know how to do that is to encrypt it.”
Elaborating, Cook explained that if Apple establishes an avenue for people to access private information on devices, it’s only natural to expect that unauthorized individuals will eventually figure out a way in themselves.
“People suggest that we should have backdoor,” Cook said, “but the reality is that if you put a backdoor in, that backdoor is for everybody, for good guys and bad guys.”
Of course, the counter to Cook’s argument is that Apple’s pro-encryption policy can leave authorities without the ability to access pertinent information in time-sensitive security situations. With respect to encrypted iMessage conversations, for example, Tim Cook said that Apple has no access to such messages, thereby leaving authorities hoping to “listen in” with no options.
“I don’t believe the tradeoff here is privacy vs national security,” Cook added. “I think that’s an overly simplistic view. We’re America, we should have both.”
Naturally, a number of outspoken security officials, along with members of the U.S. intelligence community, disagree wholeheartedly and vehemently maintain that Apple’s rigid stance with respect to encryption makes their jobs much more challenging, and at times, impossible.