Apple event kicks off with talk of encryption

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It's Apple Event day! The semi-annual gadget blogger holiday when a number of tech journalists and other worthies crowd into a room in Cupertino to hear about Apple's newest product release. The rest of us watch online, forced to open our Safari browsers for the first time since…the last Apple event.

The opening of today's event was particularly interesting. It takes place on the eve of Apple's next court date with the Justice Department. On Tuesday, there's a hearing on whether the FBI can compel Apple to write code to help it break into the encrypted iPhone left behind by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook [Update: the hearing was cancelled(if none of that made sense, read this).


That's tomorrow. Today, though, CEO Tim Cook strode on stage, made some remarks about Apple's 40th birthday coming up, and then led with this:

We built the iPhone for you, our customers, and we know that it is a deeply personal device. For many of us the iPhone is an extension of ourselves.

About a month ago we asked Americans across the country to join in a conversation. We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data, and over our privacy. I’ve been humbled and deeply grateful for the outpouring of support that we’ve received from Americans across the country, from all walks of life. We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with out own government, but we believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy.

We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country. This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility.


It's a vague statement, echoing a lot of what Cook said in the letter to customers that he released last month. However, it's interesting to see Cook citing public support, as that seems to vary depending on the survey. One from Pew last month found that Apple had less support than the FBI. As I wrote when it was released, that survey seems fundamentally flawed. Surveys since have found more support for Apple.

At the end of the day, public opinion is nice, but it's the judge the company faces tomorrow who it is probably most concerned with.

Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at