Apple CEO Tim Cook says a U.S. court order to break into an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the shooters in the San Bernardino, Calif., attack "calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the [U.S.] to understand what is at stake."

Cook says the ramifications go well beyond that one case, and could give the U.S. government backdoor access to future devices.

"Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a back door," Cook wrote on the company's website. "And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control."

Meanwhile, FBI Director James Comey told members of Congress last week that encryption is a major problem for law enforcement who "find a device that can't be opened even when a judge says there's probable cause to open it."

When should security trump privacy?

Readers let us know in the latest CBC Forum — a daily, hosted discussion about topics of national interest. 

(Please note that user names are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the user name to see the full comment in the blog format.)

"Never. The reasons brought out for compromising privacy inevitably boil down to one thing: giving into fear. When you simply choose not to fear things you have little hope of controlling or stopping, then the arguments for security have no weight." — JDev

"Security should never trump the individual rights of a person to privacy. Since there will always exist the potential for abuse of power by (often well-meaning) individuals, the risk outweighs the perceived benefits. The easiest route to a solution is not always the preferred or right one." — Steve 

"How many of us or our ancestors fled a repressive regime? Strong encryption protects our ability to have private thoughts and conversations. To weaken that protection is a dream come true for any authority that wishes to stamp out thought crime." — We're all immigrants

"Another way to look at this: Would you be comfortable with your safe-deposit box having a third key that cops have and can use without your or the bank's permission or even knowledge?" — Who are you willing to trust?

"We are living through the safest, most peaceful period of human history, especially in the West. Why should we feel the need to surrender our privacy now?" — Mic Mac

"We know this phone belonged to a mass murderer, a terrorist who may have been working with others. A court can order that only that information, if it's there, can be used. This concept that this case is preserving freedom for all is ridiculous. It isn't. If there is information there about more terror activities we can save lives." — Bob L

"Reality trumps ideology. Once you commit an act of violence against a nation, you lose your right to privacy as you have now become an enemy combatant and not a private citizen. Rights are for the living, not dead terrorists. Law enforcement with a valid warrant has every right to retrieve the information on that phone." — Curious

You can read the complete discussion below.

Can't see the forum? Click here. 

With files from The Associated Press