Complying with FBI would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ - Apple CEO’s email to staff

The Apple  CEO thanked employees for their assistance during the FBI case. © Carlo Allegri
Apple CEO Tim Cook told staff members in an email Monday that the world’s second most valuable company will not set "a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties".

Cook thanked employees for their support during the ongoing controversy surrounding the FBI’s request for Apple to assist them in unlocking the iPhone.

He reinforced his previous stance on the issue saying that Apple had no “sympathy for terrorists”, but that weakening security on their phones would be a “terrible idea”.

Cook called for the creation of a commission of “experts on intelligence, technology and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy and personal freedoms.”

Apple will “gladly participate in such an effort”, according to Cook.

Apple last week dismissed a court order to create a “backdoor” into its iOS operating system to allow the FBI to retrieve data from the phone of Syed Farook, one of two gunmen involved in the San Bernardino attack in December in which 14 people were killed.

Apple has until Friday to respond to the request.

They previously assisted the FBI in retrieving data from the suspect’s Cloud backup, which the suspect stopped using a month and a half prior to the shooting.

The FBI now want access to data on the phone that is encrypted on the iOS 8 operating system, making it nearly impossible for even the phone itself to read without the user's passcode.

Apple claim the Apple ID password was changed on the phone while in FBI custody, preventing them from pairing the phone with the Cloud account and creating a new backup.

READ MORE: Apple execs say San Bernardino iPhone password changed while in government custody

In a statement from FBI Director James Comey Sunday, he denied that his bureau wants to “set a master key loose on the land” and concentrated on the victims of the attack, saying “we can’t look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don’t follow this lead.”

Comey’s statement concentrates on the one iPhone involved in the San Bernardino case, but Cook warns that the FBI “have already said they have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock.”

“In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks. Of course Apple would do our best to protect that key, but in a world where all of our data is under constant threat, it would be relentlessly attacked by hackers and cybercriminals,” Cook wrote in his staff email. “Again, we strongly believe the only way to guarantee such a powerful tool isn’t abused and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands is to never create it.”