As Apple Inc. began Monday's product-launch event, there was an elephant in the room: the company's legal battle with the U.S. government over an encrypted iPhone used by one of the attackers in the San Bernardino terrorism case.
Chief Executive Tim Cook addressed it right away.
Cook said Apple has a responsibility to protect information on people's iPhones and other Apple products from intrusion because the devices have become an "extension of ourselves."
"We will not shrink from this responsibility," Cook said at the event in Cupertino, Calif.
Although his remarks were being streamed online across the world, Cook directed his comments about privacy primarily to U.S. users.
"We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and our privacy," Cook said. "We didn't expect … to be at odds with our government. But we believe we have a responsibility to protect your data, your privacy. We owe it to our customers."
Apple and the FBI are expected to meet in federal court in Riverside on Tuesday afternoon as a judge considers whether to enforce an order requiring the company to help investigators unlock a San Bernardino County-owned iPhone issued to Syed Rizwan Farook, a county employee.
Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, attacked the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Dec. 2, killing 14 and leaving many others wounded. They later died in a shootout with police.
The court order demands Apple write new software to enable FBI agents to circumvent security features built into the iPhone that Farook used.
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