Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the company’s use of encryption on its mobile devices, saying users should not have to trade privacy for national security.
In a broad interview with 60 Minutes on the future of Apple, Cook stood by the company’s stance of refusing to offer encrypted texts and messages from users. Cook also discussed the idea of “back door” access for law enforcement, claiming any one could potentially swipe sensitive data.
“There’s likely health information, there’s financial information,” says Cook describing a user’s iPhone. “There are intimate conversations with your family, or your co-workers. There’s probably business secrets and you should have the ability to protect it. And the only way we know how to do that, is to encrypt it. Why is that? It’s because if there’s a way to get in, then somebody will find the way in.”
Cook says Apple cooperates with law enforcement requests, but can’t access encrypted information on users’ smartphones. According to a page on Apple’s website detailing government requests, Apple says encryption data is tied to the device’s passcode.
Cook also dismisses the notion iPhone users should swap privacy for security. “We’re America. We should have both.”
In a statement released Sunday after the interview aired, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance says the use of “full-disk encryption” makes it difficult for law enforcement to prosecute criminals.
“iPhones are now the first consumer products in American history that are beyond the reach of lawful warrants,” said Vance. “The result is crimes go unsolved and victims are left beyond the protection of law.”
The Apple CEO discussed several other topics about the company, including concerns it’s trying to avoid paying taxes on overseas profits. “That is total political crap,” says Cook.
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