In defence of Apple
I feel compelled to add to the growing number of voices out there defending Apple right now. Especially when rubbish like this is being printed which clearly shows no understanding of privacy or Cryptography for that matter.
Firstly, let's not forget that civil liberties are, by definition, protections against government overreach. Privacy is a vital civil liberty and privacy is what Apple is defending here.
We should all have something to hide. Without privacy it's much harder to change laws or vote for an opposition party. Without privacy governments know too much about their populations and can control them, either directly or by nudging them. That ignorance is a check and balance against government excess.
I'm certainly not saying privacy is absolute. I'm saying it needs to be vigorously defended against government encroachment.
Privacy - when provided by cryptography - is a way of making sure your data is not in the hands of criminals who can easily utilise your personal data for any number of purposes from identity theft to just stealing your twitter account and in the process remotely wiping your entire life.
Secondly, when you create a cryptographic back door, you weaken it to the point of making it useless. Sometimes back doors are trivial, other times they aren't but if you create one there is little stopping it from getting into the hands of criminals. Once there is a back door, your cryptography is useless.
I use Apple products primarily because there hardware is superior and there really isn't anyone competing with them on that front. I also don't particularly trust Apple. But let me be very clear in saying I fully support their stance on this one.
Update: Of course the New York Times makes the case a little better than I can.