Apple Co-founder: ‘I’m on the Privacy Side’ of Apple vs. FBI

February 18, 2016, 9:47 PM UTC
Apple Inc. Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Speaks At Opening Of Telcel Digital Village
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc. and chief scientist of Primary Data, speaks at Telcel's Digital Village, hosted by Telmex and powered by Infinitum, in Mexico City, Mexico, on Friday, July 24, 2015. Telcel's Digital Village - Infinitum offers visitors free courses, workshops, conferences and contests. Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Wozniak appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch today to discuss the company’s ongoing battle with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over whether Apple can, and should, build a new version of its operating system to allow the government agency access to data stored on a user’s phone.

“I’m definitely against that. I don’t think that the phone should have backdoors,” said Wozniak, using the industry term for an often-secret means of authentication for otherwise secure software. “I believe that Apple’s brand recognition and value and profits is largely based on an item called trust. Trust means you believe somebody. You believe you’re buying a phone with encryption. It shouldn’t have hidden backdoors and ways that you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”

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What if you’re a terrorist, though? CNBC’s on-air journalists pressed Wozniak.

“I don’t believe that protects terrorist. There are other methods of doing investigation. We’re talking about one case or a general category of cases, which is, you know, basically everybody—there’s a backdoor for everyone and if that gets abused it could be conquered by hackers. It could be future people that run companies like Apple [who] decide to use it in ways they shouldn’t.”

Wozniak went on. “Privacy has a good bearing. I grew up and was kind of taught that the Bill of Rights was really absolute core values that we should have. And now I find out, oh, well, we can just sort of disagree and go around them anytime we feel like it.”

Precedent plays a part when it comes to violating someone’s privacy, Wozniak said, acknowledging that he has chosen to live his life in the public eye.

“I think with court orders and whatnot that Apple would respond in an individual case. However the case is more like: Should you build in a backdoor that you can always find out what somebody had…they cannot have a realm of privacy, and I’m on the privacy side.”

He added: “In a sense, technology has won a lot of the battles [between] human versus technology. We should hold out what we can for the human.”

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