Apple official says feds could force tech giant to spy on users through mic, camera

An Apple official claims that if the FBI wins the case against the tech giant to help it unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, then it will not be long before federal authorities force Apple to spy on consumers through the phone’s microphone and camera.

Federal authorities are demanding Apple create a back way into certain security features to unlock the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook. However, Apple insists that a ruling in favor of the FBI would set a dangerous precedent in offering a way into users’ phones without consent.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s head of services, said if the FBI wins the case there’s nothing stopping them from spying on users’ lives, The Guardian reported.

“Someday they will want (Apple) to turn on (a user’s) camera or microphone. We can’t do that now, but what if we’re forced to do that? Where will this stop? In a divorce case? In an immigration case? In a tax case? Some day, someone will be able to turn on a phone’s microphone. That shouldn’t not happen in this country,” Cue said in an interview with Univision.

The dispute between Apple and the FBI burst open last month when federal authorities obtained a court order requiring Apple to create new software and take other measures to help hack Farook’s iPhone, which authorities believe might have vital information into who the shooter was communicating with and possibly the whereabouts of a third attacker.

Apple has received the backing of other major technology companies in its case against the FBI, including Microsoft Twitter, Facebook and rival Google.

The San Bernardino County-owned iPhone was used by Farook, who along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people during an attack on Dec. 2 that was at least partly inspired by ISIS. Farook worked for the county as a health inspector.

The U.S. appealed a separate ruling earlier this week after a judge said Apple wasn’t required to pry open a locked iPhone in a routine drug case. That ruling could prove to be a major setback to officials in the Apple dispute.

Click for more from The Guardian.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.