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Tim Cook says FBI order 'could expose people to incredible vulnerabilities'

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Just eight days after a court ordered Apple to break security protections on an iPhone linked with the San Bernardino attacks, CEO Tim Cook appeared on national news to plead his case to the public. Cook's interview with ABC's David Muir aired on ABC World News Tonight. "They have our deepest sympathy," Cook said of the San Bernardino families, some of whom have joined in the FBI's requests for Apple to unlock the phone. "What they’ve been through, no one should have to go through."

But Apple's CEO held to his core arguments. "This case is not about one phone," he said. "This case is about the future. What is at stake here is, can the government compel Apple to write software that we believe would make hundreds of millions of customers vulnerable around the world — including the United States."

He then used even stronger words to warn consumers about what the FBI is asking for. "The only way we know would be to write a piece of software that we view as sort of the software equivalent of cancer. We think it’s bad news to write. We would never write it. We have never written it." He recounted recent details that revealed the FBI had county officials reset the account's Apple ID password, which made obtaining one last iCloud backup of the iPhone impossible. "I wish they would've contacted us earlier so that wouldn't have been the case," Cook said, describing it as a "crucial" misstep.

"We know doing this could expose people to incredible vulnerabilities," Cook said in another segment of the interview, referring to the bug-infused firmware update proposed by the FBI. "This is not something that we would create. This would be bad for America." Cook continues, "I believe we are making the right choice."

Cook also spoke to the circumstances of the order, which the Apple CEO says gave the company as little notice as possible. "We found out about the filing from the press, and I don’t think that's the way the railroad should be run," Cook says. "I don’t think that something so important to this country should be handled in this way." Apple has yet to file a legal response to the motion, though the company told ABC its lawyers are preparing to do so. "This is not a position that we would like to be in," Cook said. "It is a very uncomfortable position. To oppose your government on something that doesn’t feel good. And to oppose it on something where we are advocating for civil liberties — which they are supposed to protect — it is incredibly ironic." Cook said he "will" be talking to President Obama about the situation.