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Tim Cook says FBI can spy on people without needing to break iPhone encryption

Published Mar 18th, 2016 7:15AM EDT
Apple FBI iPhone Encryption Cook
Image: Mactrast

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The Apple vs. FBI war is far from over, with Apple CEO Tim Cook having explained – once again – in an extensive interview with Time this week why the Bureau is wrong looking to decrypt the San Bernardino iPhone at all costs.

In his tirade, he also pointed out to a fact that’s abundantly clear to many Internet users: intelligence agencies can collect plenty of data about anyone, without needing to break into devices. Cook called the “going dark” mantra a crock, saying that nobody really goes “dark.” Furthermore, he also made it clear that Apple would provide iCloud data, which is not encrypted, to law enforcement, as long as a lawful warrant has been obtained for that purpose.

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“And so my only point is, going dark is not — this is a crock,” told Time. “No one’s going dark. I mean really, it’s fair to say that if you send me a message, and it’s encrypted, it’s fair to say they can’t get that without going to you or to me unless one of us has it in our cloud at this point. That’s fair to say. But we shouldn’t all be fixated just on what’s not available. We should take a step back and look at the total that’s available.”
“Because there’s a mountain of information about us. I mean there’s so much. Anyway, I’m not an intelligence person. But I just look at it, and it’s a mountain of data,” he added.

Many leaks originating from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden already revealed that intelligence agencies go to great lengths to deploy advanced spying tools to collect mass data for a target online population. The FBI might not necessarily have similar operations in place, but the Bureau can now access the data collected by other agencies, including the NSA. Just a few days ago, the FBI quietly changed its privacy rules to access NSA data on American citizens, as The Guardian reported.

Cook’s full interview with the Times is available at this link. Apple and the FBI will face off in court come Tuesday, March 22nd.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.