Apple CEO: U.S. Should Withdraw Demand for iPhone Hack Help

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook acknowledged to employees Monday that "it does not feel right" to refuse to help the FBI hack a locked iPhone of a gunman in last year's San Bernardino mass shootings. But he said that to comply would threaten data security for millions and "everyone's civil liberties."

"We have no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists," Cook wrote in an email addressed to the Apple team. But he said the company believes abiding by a judge's order would set a dangerous precedent that essentially would create a backdoor to the encrypted iPhone.

Cook's email came just hours after FBI director James Comey said in an online post that Apple owes it to the victims to cooperate and that the dispute wasn't about creating legal precedent.

The FBI "can't look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don't follow this lead," Comey said.

At the government's request, a federal magistrate judge has ordered Apple to help the FBI hack into the password-protected phone used by Syed Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people in the Dec. 2 rampage.

A Los Angeles attorney, Stephen Larson, said Monday he plans to file a legal brief on behalf of several families of victims and other employees who support the government's position. Larson, a former federal judge, said federal prosecutors asked him to take on the case.

The emerging legal fight has sparked a debate on government power, privacy, digital rights, public safety and security. Apple has until Friday to formally protest the ruling in court.

Apple, in its message to employees, appeared to be sensitive to criticism that the company is simply trying to protect its proprietary business.

"It does not feel right to be on the opposite side of the government in a case centering on the freedoms and liberties that...

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