Some see Tim Cook as bravely telling the truth in his open letter on the Apple website responding to the FBI's request to unlock the iPhone of Syzed Rizwan Farook and his wife, the alleged terrorists involved in the San Bernardino shootings. Cook is very clear on his stance when he states that "we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake."
Now this issue has come to the attention of the world and the court of public opinion. Many people are like Donald Trump, Republican presidential front-runner, when he asked on "Fox and Friends," "Who do they [Apple] think they are?" Is Apple balking at helping in the investigation of terrorism? Some people think the FBI is only asking Apple to unlock one iPhone, so they wonder what's the big deal?
Here's where Tim Cook explains "what is at stake." The big deal is that the FBI isn't just asking for help on one phone. What the FBI is specifically asking for is "a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features." The implication being that it could be used on any iPhone in future investigations. The FBI wants a universal "backdoor" to any iPhone.
What is at stake is whether or not the public can believe this software will be used only in this isolated case. Snowden's document leaks in 2013 shined an unwelcome light on the methods being used by U.S. intelligence to hack cell phone conversations and texts. According to Reuters, White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated in a press briefing that "the government does not want Apple to create a new backdoor to its products." He implied further it was only to be used in this one case. Cook already addressed this argument by pointing out "there is no way to guarantee such control."
Many believe the FBI is hoping to garner public pressure on Apple. The New York Times reported Apple asked the FBI to "issue its application for the tool under seal." They refused and went public with it, but it may not be turning out as planned. Major technology leaders are beginning to line up behind Apple. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo are all making statements in support of Apple's stand for customer privacy. Yahoo executive Bob Lord's tweet used hashtags #slipperyslope and #usersfirst.
The serious nature of this discussion is perhaps highlighted in Bloomberg, which cited two unnamed sources in reporting the deadline for Apple to respond in court has been pushed back to February 26.
Cook is taking a stand and saying no, while also stating that "this moment calls for public discussion."