Mr. Cook has clearly made a strategic decision to be one of the first and few tech companies to challenge a court order of this magnitude, and if anyone can do it, it would be Apple.
Now to be clear there is a very serious matter in this case, and it is a tricky rope for investigators and business to get it right. A crime has been committed and the authorities have presumably presented credible evidence and there is a court order, however the order is essentially unlimited access to all Apple devices. The business (Apple) has two choices, co-operate or deal with the consequences of not doing so, in Apple’s case there is little financial consequence to not co-operate. The opposite case could be made that Apple recognizes that if the public finds out that they complied that their encryption is as good as useless, their analysts probably put a price tag on the customer backlash and likely predicted a huge drop in AAPL shares. Aside from the business case, it looks like now that the issue of privacy has come knocking on his doorstep, he has no choice but to take a bold and very public stand.
This is not a typical court order but is in effect a blanket and mass surveillance project. Apple is basically being asked to make an app and backdoor to bypass their encryption, or at least disable the 10-try mechanism so they can try traditional bruteforce password methods. Tim Cook stated very clearly that the ramifications would go far beyond this one case and validated his concerns by mentioning there would be little control over oversight over such a mechanism if Apple complied, which could mean the backdoor could be abused without due cause, as has been the case in the past with other surveillance.
One wonders if Apple has pondered its next move because it is unlikely that Apple can indefinitely delay or win the fight in the end. They are legally under US jurisdiction and must win their challenge or comply. Failing that Apple’s only option would be to move overseas/off-shore and this would be a huge blow for the US economy, tech sector and other companies may follow suit, such as McAfee’s weighing in on the issue and offer to crack the iPhone.
My philosophy has always been the US is a great place to do business with huge potential, but I always advise people to understand that any traffic transiting the US and especially data stored there is subject to US laws and regulations.
It will be interesting to watch where this goes, I have a feeling that most are cheering for Apple and Tim Cook at the moment and it is really no wonder with what is at stake.