Apple CEO Tim Cook: FBI's backdoor would be 'software equivalent of cancer'
"The only way [to unlock the iPhone] would be to write a piece of software that we view as sort of the software equivalent of cancer. We think it's bad news to write, and we would never write it," Cook said.
The ABC News interview was Cook's first public appearance since a court order directing Apple to help the FBI hack a terrorist's encrypted iPhone surfaced last week.
The core question in the case, according to Cook, is whether "the government can compel Apple to write software that would make hundreds of millions of customers vulnerable around the world."
"Apple has cooperated with the FBI fully in this case. They came to us and asked us for all the information we had on this phone, and we gave everything we had. But this case is not about one phone. This case is about the future," Cook said.
"The FBI has chosen to do this out in the public for whatever reasons they have. What we think at this point, given that it's out in the public, we need to stand tall, and stand tall on principle." Cook said. "There's probably more information about you on your phone than there is in your house."
"It's not just about privacy, it's about public safety," Cook said.
Cook said that he had not yet talked to President Barack Obama about the issue, although he said he will.
Tim Cook also revealed that Apple first learned about the court order that kicked off the battle from media accounts.
"This filing, we found out about the filing from the press. And I don't think that's the way the railroad should be run. And I don't think that something so important to this country should be handled in this way," Cook told David Muir.
Apple has found itself at the center of a debate between national security, privacy, and computer security since Cook addressed an open letter to Apple customers last week shortly after a court order demanding it help the FBI access encrypted data on a smartphone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters was unsealed.
"This is not a position that we would like to be in. It's a very uncomfortable position," Cook said. "To oppose your government on something doesn't feel right."