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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California
Reuters/Stephan Lam
“This is an issue that impacts all of us.”
OPENING GAMBIT

Apple’s Tim Cook: “We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have”

By Joon Ian Wong

On the day before his company is due to go up against the FBI  in federal court, Apple CEO Tim Cook opened a March 21 product-launch event, where the new iPhone SE was announced, by saying Apple ”will not shrink” from its “responsibility” to protect its customers’ data and privacy from the US government.

To applause from the audience gathered for the launch event on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California, Cook said:

“We did not expect to be in this position at odds with our own government. But we believe strongly we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect you 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.”

Cook continued to frame the Apple-FBI hearing as an issue of national importance over the principle of privacy, and one that should be decided by the country as a whole, not as an isolated incident over a single phone.

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

Apple has been ordered to help the FBI bypass security mechanisms on an iPhone belonging to one of the assailants in the San Bernardino, California, shootings. Apple has challenged the order, and a hearing over that challenge is scheduled for tomorrow (March 22) at the Riverside federal courthouse in California.

Cook’s opening remarks today will surely set the tone for tomorrow’s hearing, which is already shaping up to be a media circus.