The Justice Department won a court order in February 2016 forcing Apple to unlock the phone of Sayed Farook, the San Bernardino shooter. However, the government mishandled the device, leaving Apple unable to crack it without building a special version of iOS that was quickly dubbed Govt.OS. Apple CEO Tim Cook feared that if the software was developed by Apple, illegal copies of it would be disseminated leaving no iPhone owner"s information safe from hackers.
Comey"s book discusses his feelings about encryption on consumer devices. We already knew that he wasn"t pleased with the prospect of having to deal with encrypted smartphone messages and locked handsets. Back in 2014, Comey said before a gathering at the Brookings Institute that encryption "threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place." That language conveys the same sentiment found in "A Higher Loyalty." Writing about Apple and other Silicon Valley firms, Comey said, "The leaders of the tech companies don"t see the darkness the FBI sees."
"I found it appalling that the tech types couldn"t see this. I would frequently joke with the FBI "Going Dark" team assigned to seek solutions, "Of course the Silicon Valley types don"t see the darkness -- they live where it"s sunny all the time and everybody is rich and smart."-James Comey, excerpt from "A Higher Loyalty"
After the FBI unlocked the Apple iPhone 5c belonging to Sayed Farook for $1.4 million (and found nothing, by the way), Comey tried to hand an olive branch to Apple. In April 2016, Comey said, "Apple is not a demon; I hope people don"t perceive the FBI as a demon." Yet, a month later he had a new target. When WhatsApp moved to add end-to-end encryption to the messaging app, Comey noted that "WhatsApp has over a billion customers, overwhelmingly good people, but in that billion customers are terrorists and criminals, so that now-ubiquitous feature of all WhatsApp products will affect both sides of the house."
"A Higher Loyalty" gets released tomorrow. Already, 200,000 copies have been pre-ordered.