Apple breaking into terrorist’s iPhone would mean creating 'the software equivalent of cancer', Tim Cook says

‘We would never write it,’ the Apple boss said of the software that the FBI and the US government are asking him to create

Tim Cook has said that the US government is asking Apple to create “the software equivalent of cancer”.

The Apple boss has hit out at the FBI and the Obama administration in perhaps his most passionate interview yet. The two sides have been locked in a public and often impassioned argument about the security of the iPhone, after a court ruled that Apple must create a weakened version of its software so that law enforcement could get access to a terrorist’s iPhone.

"The only way to get information — at least currently, the only way we know — would be to write a piece of software that we view as sort of the equivalent of cancer,” Mr Cook said in an interview with ABC news.

“We think it's bad news to write,” he said. “We would never write it. We have never written it — and that is what is at stake here.

“We believe that is a very dangerous operating system."

Apple’s dispute with the government revolved around a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. The FBI can’t get into the handset because of security systems that stop people from repeatedly guessing a passcode, but the court order asks that Apple override that system and give up access.

Mr Cook argued that writing such a piece of software could set a precedent that would allow law enforcement to weaken security and damage iPhones for any other investigation.

“If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write — maybe it's an operating system for surveillance, maybe the ability for the law enforcement to turn on the camera," he said in an interview with World News Tonight. "I don't know where this stops. But I do know that this is not what should be happening in this country."

Mr Cook said that the company had helped get access to all of the information on the phone that it could, and that if it could safely unlock the phone it would do so. But getting access to the rest of the information would “expose hundreds of millions of people to issues”, Mr Cook said.