Tim Cook, 55
Tim Cook and other Silicon Valley luminaries have been quietly playing tug-of-war with Washington over digital privacy for years—at least since Edward Snowden leaked disclosures about government surveillance back in 2013. But this year, when a court ordered Apple to create a backdoor for an iPhone used by a suspect in the terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., Tim Cook had a resounding answer: Back off. In a letter to Apple customers, Cook called the FBI’s demands “chilling” and “an overreach.” While op tech execs have lined up behind Cook, it’s Apple that is facing the FBI in the showdown. Cook has put Apple’s popularity at stake in defense of principle: In a Pew Research Center survey, a majority (51% to 38%) said that Apple should comply with the FBI’s request. But court filings by the Justice Department suggest that it may blink before Cook does.