Apple CEO: 'We owe it to our country' to resist FBI demands

Apple CEO Tim Cook opened up the company’s Monday product launch by doubling down on the firm’s refusal to help investigators unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

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“We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with our own government,” Cook said. “But we believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and your privacy. We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country.”

“This is an issue that impacts all of us and we will not shrink from this responsibility,” he continued.

The remarks come the day before the first court hearing in the government’s bid to force Apple to unlock Farook’s phone. The company is opposing a federal magistrate’s order that it assist on the grounds that complying will undermine the privacy and security of everyday users of its devices.

The case is considered a proxy for a larger dispute over whether companies should be permitted to build encryption that can’t be accessed by the manufacturer under court order.

Law enforcement officials have warned that such “warrant-proof” encryption shields criminals and terrorists from investigation. Apple, which like other companies has been steadily shoring up its security, has become the poster child for such warnings.

The FBI has insisted that the assistance it is requesting is limited to the phone in question, while Apple argues that it would set a “dangerous precedent” that would effectively shift encryption policy.

“We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and our privacy,” Cook said.