Apple’s Cook says taking on FBI is right thing to do

Apple CEO Tim Cook got a standing ovation from stockholders Friday, a day after formally challenging a court order to help the FBI hack into a locked iPhone. Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft also are backing Apple.


CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Apple CEO Tim Cook received a standing ovation Friday at his first stockholder meeting since his company’s epic clash with the FBI unfolded. He defended the company’s unbending stand by saying: “These are the right things to do.”

On Thursday, the tech giant formally challenged a court order to help the FBI unlock an encrypted iPhone used by a murderous extremist in San Bernardino, California.

Federal officials have said they’re asking only for narrow assistance in bypassing some of the phone’s security features. But Apple contends the order would force it to write a software program that would make other iPhones vulnerable to hacking by authorities or criminals in the future.

Major tech companies are rallying to Apple’s cause, and plan a joint “friend of the court” brief on its behalf. Facebook said it will join with Google, Twitter and Microsoft on a joint court filing. A Twitter spokeswoman confirmed that plan, but said that different companies and trade associations will likely file “multiple” briefs.

Apple filed court papers on Thursday that asked U.S. Magistrate Sheri Pym to reverse her order on the grounds that the government had no legal authority to force the company to weaken the security of its own products. The company accused the government of seeking “dangerous power” through the courts and of trampling on its constitutional rights.

The dispute raises broad issues of legal and social policy, with at least one poll showing 51 percent of Americans think Apple should cooperate by helping to unlock the iPhone.

But it’s unclear how the controversy might affect Apple’s business. Analysts at Piper Jaffray said a survey they commissioned last week found the controversy wasn’t hurting the way most Americans think about Apple or its products.

At least one shareholder at Friday’s meeting voiced support for the company’s stance.

“Apple is 100 percent correct in not providing or doing research to create software to break into it,” said Tom Rapko, an Apple investor from Santa Barbara, California. “I think if you give the government an inch, they’ll take a yard.”

Cook offered only brief remarks about the FBI case. But the CEO won praise during the meeting from the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Internet rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Apple’s share price has seen little change since the issue erupted last week. Overall, though, the company’s stock has declined in recent months over worries that iPhone sales were slowing around the world.

A hearing on the iPhone legal dispute is set for next month.

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