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Tim Cook calls encryption 'inherently great' at Utah event

Apple CEO doubles down on his defense of the technology that scrambles up data and communications, keeping criminals -- and the government -- from seeing what's inside.


Tim Cook at an Apple event earlier in September.

James Martin / CNET

Apple CEO Tim Cook doubled down on his stance on encryption Friday at the Utah Tech Tour, an annual meeting for technology trade group the Utah Tech Council.

"We believe the only way to protect both your privacy and safety from a cyber attack is to encrypt," Cook said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. "Encryption is inherently great. And we would not be a safe society without it."

Encryption is technology that makes data and communications unreadable except to those with the correct key.

Apple has battled with the US government over whether the FBI can force it to write custom code to break encryption on an iPhone in a criminal investigation in multiple court cases. Two of those cases resolved earlier this year without an answer to the legal question of whether the government has this authority.

At Friday's question and answer session, Cook emphasized that encryption does more than protect the data on iPhones. It also protects the US power grid and defense systems, he said, according to Business Insider.

"Encryption is what makes the public safe," Cook said. "As you know, there are people kept alive because the grid is up."