The FBI's stance on encryption benefits hackers, according to Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue, speaking yesterday about the ongoing legal battle swirling around the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. "Of course that's not the way they are looking at it," Cue told Univision in a Spanish-language interview. "But really that's what is happening."
Cue conducted the interview in Spanish with Univision
Cue is the latest Apple executive to speak out about against the FBI's demand that Apple helps unlock the phone, joining vice president of software Craig Federighi, and CEO Tim Cook as part of a concentrated PR campaign to explain Apple's reluctance to comply. Cue's interview was conducted in Spanish, but Apple provided an English translation soon after, showing the company going above and beyond its usual efforts to get its message out to a wider audience.
"The Government wants more security than anyone," Cue said, tempering his statements somewhat. "The Secretary of Defense (Ashton Carter), who is responsible for the NSA, wants encryption to continue getting more and more secure. Because he knows that if we create some way to get in, criminals and terrorists will get in. They don't want that." But the Apple executive said that the FBI wanted to both maintain encryption but be allowed in when required, two concepts that couldn't co-exist. "You either have security or you don't have security," Cue said.
Cue pointed to more than 200 cases in New York City alone with phones that law enforcement wants Apple's help to access. "These aren't going to be terrorism cases, they are going to be all sorts of cases," he said. "Where does this stop? In a divorce case? In an immigration case? In a tax case with the IRS?" When asked specifically about Latino immigrants in the US, Cue said that should the FBI be allowed into the phone, he was "sure" a judge would use the precedent in immigration cases.
"To give such amounts of force to the government is not a good thing."
"I never thought I'd be talking about a case in which we are against the FBI and the government," Cue said, citing his own experience as the child of immigrants. "My parents came to this country for the same things, to have civil liberties, democracy. [This] is a very, very big case, about what the government can do. And to give such amounts of force to the government is not a good thing." Apple, on the other hand, was simply providing protection against nefarious forces. "The best way to think about this is Apple engineers against terrorists, against criminals," he said. "We are not protecting against the government. We want to help."
Apple is willing to take the case to the Supreme Court, Cue said, but he reiterated the company's stance that it should be decided in Congress, calling it a case "in which all citizens in this country [...] should be part of what is done here." He also also brought up the government's less-than-stellar track record of keeping information safe, explaining why Apple believes any method to bypass phone encryption would make its way into criminal hands. "In recent years, the government has lost more than five million fingerprints from government employees," he said, also justifying Apple's encryption arms race. "They have lost hundreds of millions of credit numbers from financial institutions. This problem is happening more and more and more. And the only way we can protect ourselves is to make phones more and more secure."