Apple is engaged in a major standoff with the U.S. government over the security of its iPhones.

By Nerti U. Qatja | @nertiqatja | @VOP_Today

David Goldman explain for CNN Money

The FBI received a court order, directing Apple to help break into the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple is refusing to comply.

The court fight has sparked a much broader debate: Can tech companies uphold their responsibilities to comply with law enforcement’s criminal investigations while still keeping customers’ data secure?

Here are the latest developments — and what you need to know. Last updated: February 26, 12 p.m ET.

1) February 26: Apple attorney Ted Olson tells CNNMoney that if Apple loses its court case, the country will turn into a “police state.”

2) February 25: Republican presidential candidates, including Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, said during the GOP debate that Apple should follow the court’s order and help the FBI break into the shooter’s iPhone.

3) February 25: Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), Facebook, Google and Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) pledge support for Apple in its battle against the FBI. They say they will file letters to the court stating that they stand with Apple.

4) February 25: Apple lays out its legal defense in a formal response to a magistrate-judge’s decision. Apple’s attorneys argue the court order violated its constitutional rights under the First and Fifth Amendments. The company called the “conscription” of an American company to do the government’s bidding “unprecedented.”

5) February 24: In an interview with ABC’s David Muir, Apple CEO Tim Cook says the government shouldn’t be able to force Apple to compromise the privacy of hundreds of millions of iPhone users in order to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone. He says it would force Apple to create “the software equivalent of cancer.”

6) February 24: Several security researchers in direct contact with Apple employees tell CNNMoney that Apple engineers see their next goal as making a version of the device that even Apple can’t break into.

7) February 24: Maricopa County in Arizona issues a statement saying it will no longer give Apple devices to employees.

“If Apple wants to be the official smartphone of terrorists and criminals, there will be a consequence,” says Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

8) February 23: Congressman Ted Lieu asks the FBI to drop its legal attack on Apple. In a formal letter to FBI Director James Comey, the congressman says the FBI is trying to use federal courts to seek an authority it doesn’t have.

9) February 23: Bill Gates weighs in on the debate with a more nuanced view than most of his peers in the technology industry. In an interview with the Financial Times, Gates says the FBI is looking for specific information, not “some general thing.” But in a subsequent interview with Bloomberg, Gates says he was generally concerned about government overreach.

10) February 22: Cook emails Apple employees, thanking them for their support. He laments the fact that Apple (AAPL, Tech30) is fighting with the U.S. government but says “data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people” is at stake.

11) February 22: Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook (FB, Tech30) is “sympathetic with Tim [Cook] and Apple on this one.” Facebook had previously issued a statement of support.

12) February 21: FBI Director Comey says the agency’s request is limited: “We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land,” he writes on the Lawfare blog.

13) February 19: Senior Apple executives say investigators may have screwed up the handling of Farook’s iPhone. The FBI ordered San Bernardino County to change Farook’s iCloud password hours after the shooting, preventing a potential iCloud backup that may have revealed some of the information it is now unable to retrieve.

14) February 19: The Justice Department says its request “presents no danger for any other phone.” It accuses Apple of resisting out of “concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy.”


15) February 19: The House Energy and Commerce Committee asks Cook and Comey to testify. No date is set for the hearing.

Related: What price are you prepared to pay for encryption?

16) February 17: Google (GOOG) CEO Sundar Pichai fires off a mini-tweetstorm in support of Apple.He says complying with valid requests for data is “wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent.”

17) February 17: Edward Snowden calls Apple’s fight with the FBI, “the most important tech case in a decade.” He says he supports Apple.

18) February 16: In a long letter to customers, Cook explains his decision not to comply with the court order. “The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers,” he writes.