It’s no secret that if the FBI comes out on top against Apple in the San Bernardino iPhone case, the consequences will be felt by tech companies and US citizens alike. But Apple’s senior VP of internet software and service, Eddy Cue, thinks a win for the government agency could mean government surveillance moving to a whole new level.
On Wednesday, Cue gave a Spanish-language interview to Univision. In it, he said that if Apple is made to unlock Syed Rizwan Farook’s work-issued device, it could be the start of a slippery path that leads to the government forcing the Cupertino company to use an iPhone’s microphone and camera to spy on people.
"When they can get us to create a new system to do new things, where will it stop?" Cue said. “One day the FBI may want us to open your phone's camera, microphone. Those are things we can't do now. But if they can force us to do that, I think that's very bad. That should not happen in this country."
Cue confirmed in the interview that, as expected, Apple will appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court if it loses the case. The company also plans to continue improving the encryption features found on its devices.
Cue also pointed out the US government's poor record when it came to keeping data - including that of its own employees - safe from hackers. He argued that Apple’s opposition to the FBI's demands is an attempt by the company to protect the public.
What they want is to give them a key to the back door of your house, and we don't have the key. Since we don't have the key, they want us to change the lock. When we change the latchkey, it changes for everyone. And we have a key that opens all phones. And that key, once it exists, exists not only for us. Terrorists, criminals, pirates, all too will find that key to open all phones.
Apple has the backing of a number of big tech companies in the legal case, including rivals Microsoft. The firms plan on filing a joint amicus brief supporting the iPhone maker in its upcoming trial.
Recently, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden entered the debate, saying the FBI’s assertation that only Apple has the “exclusive technical means” to unlock the iPhone was “bulls**t.”