Apple chief Tim Cook went public Wednesday in his battle with the FBI, saying that unlocking an iPhone in the name of fighting terrorism would be "bad for America."
"I think safety of the public is incredibly important -- safety of our kids, safety of our families is very important," Cook said during a television interview with ABC News.
"The protection of people's data is incredibly important, and so the trade-off here is we know that doing this could expose people to incredible vulnerabilities."
Apple is battling the US government over unlocking devices in at least 10 cases in addition to its high-profile dispute involving the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino attackers, court documents show.
Apple has been locked in a legal and public relations fight with the government in the San Bernardino case, where the FBI is seeking technical assistance in hacking the iPhone of Syed Farook, a US citizen, who gunned down 14 people with his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik in the California city in December.
When asked in the interview how he felt about Apple taking the stand with the chance information on Farook's iPhone might prevent another terrorist attack, Cook responded: "Some things are hard and some things are right. And some things are both. This is one of those things."
Cook maintained that the definite dangers of creating a way to crack into iPhone encryption trumped concerns about "something that might be there," adding he felt Apple was making the right choice.
"This (master key) is not something we would create," Cook said. "This would be bad for America. It would also set a precedent that I believe many people in America would be offended by."