Dear Tim Cook

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Fri, Feb 19 - 4:14 pm EDT | 2 years ago by
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    Kiraspondence - Tim Cook

    Dear Tim Cook:

    Well, this is a sticky situation now, isn’t it? Last December, 14 people in San Bernardino, California were brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists and apparently your company is the only entity in America with the ability to hack a county-owned iPhone used by Mr. Jihadi (Syed Farook) for work. The FBI has asked for your help, demanded your help and now has secured a court order for your help, which you have summarily rejected and have promised you will continue to defy.

    As an American citizen who is gravely concerned with the rise of Islamic terrorism on our own shores and the seemingly lackadaisical response from the Obama administration, I have one thing to say you:


    I fully support your defiance of this court order and I stand with Apple in resisting being strong-armed by a government that has no business meddling in the affairs of private enterprise.

    I’ve heard statements from some of the family members of the San Bernardino victims and they are not pleased with your stance. I’ve heard from countless friends and readers who also feel the same. They want justice and, while they’re not comfortable with the idea of the government compelling you to ignore your own privacy policies, they feel that sometimes certain freedoms must be sacrificed in order to secure justice.

    I completely understand this point of view and I can’t honestly say that if I had lost a loved one on that horrible day that I wouldn’t feel the same way. However, as a liberty-loving American who has a particular reverence for the brilliance of our Constitution, I cannot in good conscience support this court order.

    I do believe that the FBI and other security agencies should have the right to hack into any device that is vital to the interests of national security. If a computer is seized during a raid, there is no moral imperative to leave the device untouched. A warrant to search a device is right and necessary. However, what the FBI is asking your company to do goes way beyond simply complying with a search warrant. They are asking you to not only violate a privacy policy that is meant to protect all your consumers (good and bad alike), they are commanding you to create technology that does not yet exist to give them the ability to open this device and retrieve locked, private information.

    In light of the terrifying ease with which the terrorists seemed able to plan and execute the murders of innocent Americans, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal at first glance. What’s the problem? Write the code, hand it over and let’s get on with the business of justice.

    But we both know the ramifications of what is being asked (demanded, really) of you are much larger than one device. In your own words from your letter to Apple customers:

    “Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

    The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

    Indeed, this sets a chilling and dangerous precedent on a number of levels. On a practical level, it directly violates the privacy policy that protects your customers, the people who keep you all in business…and it just gets worse from there. Some may say that there’s nothing wrong with just doing it this one time to help the FBI prosecute an important case but once the software is developed, who is to say it will only ever be used just that one time? Does anything anywhere really work that way? You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. This is the government that brought us Benghazi, Fast and Furious and ridiculous email/server scandal involving the Secretary of State and some of the most classified information in the nation. Does anyone really think that same government can be trusted to use such a powerful technological tool just once and then hand it back to the creators?

    Can we trust them to not lose it or have it stolen? This is the same administration that has seen unprecedented national security hacks at the hands of the Chinese and other nefarious forces over the last 7 years. What would be the consequences for American citizens (both average and of vital political status) if this technology were to fall into the wrong hands? Who is to say our government isn’t the “wrong hands” in the first place?

    Finally, the most disturbing aspect of all this is that if our government can compel a private business to not only violate its own policies and models but create an apparatus to allow for the continual violation of said policies at the expense of privacy and profit, they can compel anyone to do anything in the name of “national security.” If we’re uncomfortable with government forcing someone to bake and sell a gay wedding cake against their will, we must be uncomfortable with this court order.

    I know it’s cliche but it fits: it’s a slippery slope – and the government wants Apple to cover the slope in grease.

    There’s no denying that this is a complex and nuanced situation. There are many who feel that while it’s unfortunate, national security must sometimes (sparingly) trump freedom.

    That is not the American way. In a situation where the very difficult choice is between violating the constitutional rights of American citizens and private enterprise, and (rightfully) pursuing justice, the values and original laws of our Republic dictate that we must come down on the side of freedom.

    Stay strong. I appreciate your unwillingness to create a technology that could one day be used to cause an even more dangerous national security risk down the line. I’ve not always been the greatest fan of your company, but in this case I stand with you…because you’re standing for freedom, which happens to be my favorite thing about being an American.

    Your fellow American,


    Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    Kira Davis is a writer, video blogger and homeschool mother of two. She has interviewed President Obama and appeared on Fox News, The BlazeTV and the Dr. Phil Show. Kira is a dog person but she owns a cat anyway. You can find her on Twitter @RealKiraDavis.

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