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Manhattan DA Fires Back After Apple CEO Defends Stance On App Encryption

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance fired back at Apple CEO Tim Cook Sunday night over the executive's repeated backlash against a federal push for government access to encrypted text messages and emails.

In an exclusive interview with '60 Minutes'' Charlie Rose, Cook remained firm on his position.

"If the government lays a proper warrant on us today, then we will give the specific information that is requested, because we have to by law. In the case of encrypted information, we don't have it to give," Cook said.

"I don't believe the trade-off here is privacy versus national security," he added later.

In November, Vance and FBI Director James Comey called for the passage of legislation that would require companies like Apple and Google to give the government access to encrypted information.

The push for federal legislation came to light after the terror attacks on Paris and, more recently, in San Bernardino, California.

As CBS2 reported earlier this year, ISIS spelled out the tech-loopholes in a 34-page manual that has been translated and released by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

ISIS instructed users to use apps like iMessage because it is encrypted and secure, or other messaging apps like Telegram and Whickr, because they maintain user privacy and offers a self destruction feature.

In a statement released Sunday night, Vance attacked Apple's full-disk encryption plan, saying the company implemented the measure "so that it could no longer comply with the judicial search warrants that make this work possible."

"iPhones are now the first consumer products in American history that are beyond the reach of lawful warrants," Vance said in a statement. "The result is crimes go unsolved and victims are left beyond the protection of law."

End-to-end encryption technology is now widely used in many standard message systems, including Apple's iMessage and Facebook's WhatsApp. Similar technology also shields the contents of smartphones running the latest versions of Apple and Google operating software.

"If there's a way to get in, then somebody will find a way to get in," Cook said. "There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is, if you put a back door in, that back door's for everybody."

Vance believes that Cook's resistance should only mean a swifter call to action.

"Because Apple is unwilling to help solve this problem, the time for a national, legislative solution is now," Vance said.

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