Speaking on national television in his first public remarks since the rapid ascent of the Apple-FBI iPhone encryption debate, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said today spoke out against the notion that the controversy is boils down to the cause of privacy versus the cause of national security.
“I know people like to frame this argument is privacy vs. national security,” Cook said in a 29-minute video interview with David Muir of ABC News on “World News Tonight with David Muir.” “That is overly simplistic, and it is not true. This is also about public safety.”
Cook argued that devices hold information on people’s families and their children in particular. And Cook waxed patriotic several times in the interview, mentioning the many emails of support he has received from people in the military and police departments.
“I love democracy,” Cook said. “That is who we are. I think the best thing to do is to discuss, collaborate, and work together on whatever the solution may be.”
Cook said he was surprised that no one contacted him directly to inform him of the court order to compel Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5c.
“But the U.S. always comes out of these things well,” Cook said. “I feel very good that the debate is going on. Even when people disagree with us, it is good that the debate is happening. That’s what makes this country so special.”
He said that when he will be meeting with President Obama — he did not say when — he would be reiterating many of the points he was making to Muir. He said he was also forward to a discussion out in the open with Congressional representatives. Sure enough, some elected officials have said they plan to introduce a bill that would form a committee on encryption.
“This is our country,” Cook said. “This country is about life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s about freedom of expression and freedom of speech. These are core principles of America.”
See our timeline of the Apple-FBI debate here.