Montgomery: Employees to no longer use iPhones

Posted at 10:29 AM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 14:29:52-05

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said his office will no longer provide employees with iPhones citing the tech company's refusal to help the FBI break into a phone allegedly used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino, California attack.

The notice was sent out to staff on Feb. 21 and released to the media on Feb. 24.

Montgomery said in a statement that Apple's refusal "puts Apple on the side of the terrorists instead of on the side of public safety."

Montgomery's statement said it will no longer provide replacement iPhones or offer iPhone upgrades to current employees. 

Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook posted a lengthy letter online saying the judge's ruling ordering Apple to break into the phone was government overreach and could put millions of its users' privacy at risk.

In his statement, Montgomery called Apple's privacy concerns "a corporate PR stunt and ignored the 4th Amendment protections afforded by our Constitution."

"In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession," Cook wrote. "The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a back door. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control."

Montgomery said prosecutors have routinely sought to search, and been granted, iPhones belonging to suspect's in drug trafficking, sexual exploitation and murder cases.

The County Attorney's office said 366 of the 564 smartphones used by its office employees are iPhones.

"If Apple wants to be the official smartphone of terrorists and criminals, there will be a consequence," he said.