Apple vs. intelligence. The full text of the open letter from Tim cook

Apple vs. intelligence. The full text of the open letter from Tim cook


The U.S. Supreme court recognized the right of intelligence agencies to demand from the Apple iPhone access the contents of the so-called “California arrow”, which last year were 14 people. But according to Tim cook, this precedent can bring a lot of harm to ordinary people, whose personal data will be threatened. The hours ago on Apple’s official website published an open letter from cook to the company’s customers, which can be regarded as a statement of direct confrontation with U.S. law enforcement agencies. We publish the full letter in Russian, because it concerns all of us.

The message to our users

The U.S. government has demanded that Apple took the unprecedented step of threatening the security of our users. We oppose this decision, whose implications extend far beyond the currently considered case.


This position requires a public discussion, and we want our clients and all citizens of the country understand what is at stake.

The need for encryption

Smartphones, the leading among which is the iPhone were a major part of our lives. People use them to store huge amount of personal information from private correspondence to photos, music, notes, calendars and contacts, information about finances and health, even about where we’ve been and where we’re going.


All this information must be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it and use it without our knowledge and consent. Users expect Apple and other technology companies are doing their best to protect their personal data and that Apple is extremely interested in the protection of these data.

There is a security breach of our personal information could ultimately jeopardize our personal safety. For this reason, the encryption is for all of us so much importance.

For many years we have used encryption to protect personal information of our clients because we believe this is the only way to protect their information. We even made the data inaccessible to us, because we are convinced that the contents of your iPhone will not be touched.

The San Bernardino

The horrific terrorist attack in San Bernardino, which occurred in December last year, has caused shock and outrage. We mourn the lost lives, to those who have been affected by this incident, got justice. A few days after the attacks, the FBI turned to us for help and we worked hard to support the government in the investigation of this terrible crime. No sympathy for the terrorists we are not experiencing.

When the FBI requested data we had at our disposal, we have provided them. Apple fulfills the conditions of a valid subpoenas and search warrants, the same thing occurred in San Bernardino. We have also offered Apple’s engineers to advise the FBI and offered the most effective ideas about how opportunities for investigation was available to them.

We have great respect for the professionals from the FBI and are confident that they have good intentions. Up to this point we have done everything within our power and within the law to help them. Now, however, the U.S. government asked us what we simply don’t have. Moreover, the creation of what we are asked, we believe dangerous. They asked us to create a backdoor for the iPhone.

In particular, the FBI wants us to have created a new version of the operating system for iPhone with ability to bypass several important security features, and install it on the iPhone in the course of investigative activities. If this software, which does not currently exist, falling into the wrong hands, it will allow you to crack the iPhone owned by any person.

The FBI may use other words to describe this tool, but be sure: the creation of the iOS version with the ability to bypass the protection, no doubt, means the creation of a backdoor. And although the government could claim that its use will be limited to only this case, there is no way to guarantee it.

The threat to data security

Some argue that creating iPhone backdoor for one is a simple and fast solution. However, this process ignores not only the basics of information security, but also the importance of state action in this case.

In today’s digital world the “key” to encrypted system — is a piece of information that is able to unlock the data, and it is absolutely the same, as measures for security. As soon as the information becomes known or is revealed a way to bypass the code encryption can be broken by any who will possess the relevant knowledge.

The government suggests that this tool can only be used once on one phone. But it is not true. After creation it can be used again on any number of devices. In the world of non-digital is the master key that can open hundreds of millions of locks: from restaurants, banks, shops, houses. For anybody it will not be acceptable.

The government requires that Apple broke the data of their own users and thereby he lost a decade of achievements in safety, through which our users, and among them, and tens of millions of American citizens are protected from hackers and cyber criminals. The same engineers who created the encryption on the iPhone to protect our customers, ironically, weaken this protection and could jeopardize the user’s safety.

For American companies there’s no precedent, when they were forced to put customers at risk of attack. For many years experts on encryption and national security experts have repeatedly warned of the danger of weakening encryption. Last hit only law-abiding citizens who trust Apple and other companies in the field of the protection of their data. Criminals will continue their business, using tools that are easily available to them.

A dangerous precedent

Instead make all legislatively through Congress, the FBI offers unprecedented to use the law “on all claims and the rulings by the courts”, adopted in 1789, to justify expansion of their powers.

The government requires that we have weakened the security and added to the operating system new features for inputting password in electronic form. In this case, to unlock iPhone using “brute force” will be even easier — by sending thousands or even millions of combinations at the speed of a modern computer.

The consequences of these requirements scare. If the government can use the law “on all claims and the rulings by the courts” to simplify the procedure of unlocking your iPhone, any device data can be captured. The government will be able to violate privacy and to demand that Apple create software for the interception of communications, access to data on health, financial information, location tracking, even access the microphone or camera phone without your knowledge.

We are not to neglect to fight this decree. We are sure that you need to speak to the person that, in our opinion, is the abuse of power by American government.

We challenge the requirements of the FBI with the deepest respect and love for our country. We believe in everyone’s best interests to step back and rethink the situation.

Although we have taken positive attitude to the intentions of the FBI, from the government is wrong to force us to create a backdoor for our products. And ultimately, we fear that this requirement could undermine the freedoms that our government intends to protect.

Tim Cook

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