So, the FBI asked Apple chief executive Tim Cook for help in the San Bernardino investigation to unlock an iPhone used by one of the killers and his answer was in the negative. Cook replied to the request with a letter on Apple’s homepage, saying that Apple did not want to create the tool that would be required to unlock the device.

Source: Reuters

Since then, a battle ensued and escalated into a high-publicity showdown between the two giants.

In a message to customers last week, Cook said that Apple had helped the FBI, but would not create a so-called backdoor that would have the potential to unlock any iPhone. Apple decision was hailed by some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum.

To further clarify his stand on the significant decision, he featured in an exclusive interview with ABC News with anchor David Muir.

Making one of the strongest remarks regarding the ongoing encryption debate, Cook said that what the U.S. government was asking of Apple amounted to the "software equivalent of cancer." Terming the issue complex, Cook insisted that the creation of such software would put hundreds of millions of customers at risk and trample civil liberties.

Source: Reuters

Here's the full interview:

These are the most important takeaways from the interview:

  • If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write. Maybe it’s an operating system for surveillance. Maybe it’s the ability for law enforcement to turn on the camera. I mean, I don’t know where this stops. But I do know this is not what should be happening in this country. This is not what should be happening in America.
  • No one would want a master key built that would turn hundreds of millions of locks. Even if that key were in the possession of the person that you trust the most, that key could be stolen. That is what this is about.
  • I know people like to frame this argument as privacy versus national security. That is overly simplistic and is not true. This is also about public safety. The smartphone that you carry has more information about you on it than probably any other singular device or any other singular place.
  • Think about this. It is, in our view, the software equivalent of cancer. Is this something that should be created? Technology can do so many things. But there are many things technology should never be allowed to do. And the way you not allow it, is to not create it.
  • America is strongest when we all come together. There are great people in the FBI and the DoJ and in government — incredible public servants. There’s also some really smart people in technology, and there are some really great people focused on civil liberties. All of these groups need to come together.
  • We would be prepared to take this issue all the way. Yes. Because I think it’s that important for America. This should not be decided court by court by court. If you decide that it’s okay to force a company to do something that they think is bad for hundreds of millions of people, then… Think about this for a minute.
  • This case is not about one phone. This case is about the future. ... If we knew a way to get the information on the phone -- that we haven't already given -- if we knew a way to do this, that would not expose hundreds of millions of other people to issues, we would obviously do it. ... Our job is to protect our customers.
  • Let me be clear. At the end of the day, we have to follow the law. Just like everybody else, we have to follow the law. What is going on right now is we’re having our voices be heard. And I would encourage everyone who wants to have a voice and wants to have an opinion to make sure their voice is heard.