Apple Given 3 More Days to Unlock San Bernardino Gunman’s iPhone

February 19, 2016 Updated: February 19, 2016

Apple has been given three more days to respond to a court order to unlock the iPhone that had belonged to Syed Rizwan Farook, the suspect behind the San Bernardino terrorist attack that left 14 people dead.

The Department of Justice issued an order for Apple to assist the FBI in its investigation of Farook, sources told NBC News on Thursday. Now, Apple’s response in court is due on Feb. 26 instead of next Tuesday.

Federal Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym gave the order Feb. 16, granting the DOJ’s request.

This undated combination of file photos provided by the FBI, left, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles shows Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook. The husband and wife died in a fierce gunbattle with authorities several hours after their commando-style assault on a gathering of Farook's colleagues from San Bernardino, Calif., County's health department Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (FBI, left, and California Department of Motor Vehicles via AP, File)
This undated combination of file photos provided by the FBI, left, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles shows Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook. The husband and wife died in a fierce gunbattle with authorities several hours after their commando-style assault on a gathering of Farook’s colleagues from San Bernardino, Calif., County’s health department Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (FBI, left, and California Department of Motor Vehicles via AP, File)

 

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, in a statement this week, wrote that the firm opposes “this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

“Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us,” Cook added. “For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.”

Cook added that the court order is “dangerous” and represents “an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.”

He added:

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.