Apple CEO Tim Cook: Unlocking terrorist's iPhone is 'bad for America'

Breaking down Apple's fight with the FBI
Breaking down Apple's fight with the FBI

Tim Cook isn't budging on Apple's faceoff with the FBI.

In an interview with ABC's David Muir that aired Wednesday, Cook said the government shouldn't be able to force Apple to compromise the privacy of hundreds of millions of iPhone users in order to unlock a terrorist's iPhone. He said it would force Apple to create "the software equivalent of cancer."

The FBI wants Apple to help investigators bypass the code on a phone that belonged to Syed Farook, one of the shooters in a December 2015 attack in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 22 injured.

The matter is now tied up in court, and it has put Cook in the spotlight of a tense national debate about balancing security with privacy.

Apple has argued that coding a "back door" into the iPhone would compromise the security of hundreds of millions of its customers.

Related: Apple vs. the FBI ... in 2 minutes

Muir asked Cook if he has "any concern that you might be able to prevent another terrorist attack by breaking into that phone."

Cook responded by saying, "Some things are hard, and some things are right, and some things are both. This is one of those things."

He argued that the software would compromise sensitive information -- such as financial data, health records and "the location of our kids."

"This would be bad for America. It would also set a precedent that I think many people in America would be offended by," Cook says.

Tech powerhouses Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Sundar Pichai of Google have both voiced support for Apple's (AAPL, Tech30) decision.

The Justice Department, which includes the FBI, has argued that its request "presents no danger for any other phone," and says that Apple is resisting out of "concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy."

Cook published an open letter last week in which he argues that breaking into the phone could "undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers."

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