Apple CEO Tim Cook has spoken out for the first time since Bloomberg printed its highly controversial story saying Apple found Chinese spy microchips in the Supermicro-supplied servers the Cupertino firm used in its iCloud server farms.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Cook said there is “no truth” to the story about Apple finding the chips, and called for Bloomberg to publish a retraction.
“There is no truth in their story about Apple,” Cook told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview. “They need to do that right thing and retract it.”
Apple as a corporation has refuted the report’s claims numerous times, maintaining the story is “Completely untrue,” and that the chips were never found in their servers, nor was there ever an FBI investigation into the supposed incident.
Bloomberg stands by its original report that Apple, Amazon, and other tech firms had found spy chips on their Supermicro motherboards that had been placed there by the Chinese government. The chips allegedly allowed China to access corporate secrets.
Apple says they found a chip on a single Supermicro server, in an incident that it says was completely unrelated to Bloomberg’s claims about the incident.
Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn’t spoken out publicly about the report, until now.
“I personally talked to the Bloomberg reporters along with Bruce Sewell who was then our general counsel. We were very clear with them that this did not happen, and answered all their questions,” said Cook. “Each time they brought this up to us, the story changed and each time we investigated we found nothing.”
Cook continued, saying Bloomberg failed to provide Apple with specific details about the chips that were supposedly found and removed. Cook says the publication’s claims are based on “vague secondhand accounts.”
“We turned the company upside down,” Cook said. “Email searches, data center records, financial records, shipment records. We really forensically whipped through the company to dig very deep and each time we came back to the same conclusion: This did not happen. There’s no truth to this.”
Apple has never publicly called for the retraction of any story in the past. Following the quotes from Cook, BuzzFeed again contacted Bloomberg who refused to retract the story.
“Bloomberg Businessweek’s investigation is the result of more than a year of reporting, during which we conducted more than 100 interviews,” a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in response to a series of questions. “Seventeen individual sources, including government officials and insiders at the companies, confirmed the manipulation of hardware and other elements of the attacks. We also published three companies’ full statements, as well as a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We stand by our story and are confident in our reporting and sources.”
In addition to the denials from Apple, several other sources, including government agencies have denied the claims of spy chips being found in Apple’s servers. The Department of Homeland Security, former FBI general counsel James Baker, and NSA Senior Advisor Rob Joyce have all questioned Bloomberg’s claims and have denied any government investigations took place.