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Apple’s Tim Cook on FBI battle: ‘We will not shrink from this responsibility’

Apple kicked off its media event, where it’s expected to announce a slew of new devices, with the elephant in the room — its battle with the FBI.

“We know the iPhone is a deeply personal device,” CEO Tim Cook said to members of the media at Cupertino. “For many of us, iPhone is an extension of ourselves.”

The hearing is tomorrow, and revolves around a court order that demanded Apple to create a backdoor for the FBI, to access the iPhone of San Bernardnio shooter Syed Farook. Apple claims that doing so would harm the privacy of its customers, and would be an unreasonable “burden” for the iPhone maker.

Related: Apple vs. the FBI: A complete timeline of the war over tech encryption

Cook said people need to decide how much power the government will have “over our data, and over our privacy.” He said Apple didn’t expect to be in this position, “at odds with our government.”

“We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country,” he said. “This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility.” Cook received strong applause from his statements, before switching to Apple’s Lisa Jackson, who began talking about Apple’s environmental efforts.

Apple recently fired back at the Department of Justice’s brief, citing it as “reckless” and “uninformed.”

Related: John Oliver tackles Apple vs. FBI debate on Last Week Tonight

“The protections that the government now asks Apple to compromise are the most security-critical software component of the iPhone — any vulnerability or backdoor, whether introduced intentionally or unintentionally, can represent a risk to all users of Apple devices simultaneously,” Apple engineer Erik Neuenschwander said in the brief.

Even if the FBI wins the case, it may meet stiff resistance from Apple’s engineers — who have shown that they’re willing to resign, rather than having to break the encryption they designed in Apple’s software.

“It’s an independent culture and a rebellious one,” Jean-Louis Gassée, a former engineering manager at Apple, said to The New York Times. “If the government tries to compel testimony or action from these engineers, good luck with that.”