Arizona county attorney's office stops issuing iPhones to staff amid encryption dispute

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Arizona has announced that it will stop issuing iPhones to its employees, citing Apple's current legal dispute between the Apple and FBI as the cause. In a press release announcing the news, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery went so far as to say Apple's position places it "on the side of terrorists."

From the Maricopa County Attorney's Office:

"Apple's refusal to cooperate with a legitimate law enforcement investigation to unlock a phone used by terrorists puts Apple on the side of terrorists instead of on the side of public safety," Montgomery said. "Positioning their refusal to cooperate as having anything to do with privacy interests is a corporate PR stunt and ignores the 4th Amendment protections afforded by our Constitution."

"If the potential for unauthorized access to an encryption key is truly motivating Apple's unwillingness to assist in downloading information from specific iPhones, then let's define the problem in those terms and work on that concern. Otherwise, Apple is proving indifferent to the need for evidence to hold people accountable who have harmed or intend to harm fellow citizens."

The statement only says that the office will no longer issue iPhones as replacements or upgrades, so it seems that the 366 iPhones that the office says are currently in use are safe.

Montgomery's argument that Apple is endangering public safety runs directly counter to Apple's stated position on the issue. The Cupertino company has argued that its cooperation in this case could set a dangerous precedent, resulting in an influx of backdoor requests from governments around the world — some of which may not have noble intentions. In a recent interview with ABC's World News Tonight, CEO Tim Cook even went so far as to call the backdoor tool the FBI has requested the "software equivalent of cancer."

FBI vs. Apple