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Tim Cook: 'We have a gag order on us right now'

January 25, 2014: 6:54 AM ET

CEO talks to ABC about what he can and can't say about Apple and the NSA.

FORTUNE -- Tim Cook got serious at the 2:20 mark in the attached 4-minute YouTube video.

ABC News' David Muir had finally stopped peppering Apple's (AAPL) CEO with questions about the company's next big thing and brought the subject around to the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance program.

A top-secret powerpoint slide leaked last June suggested that an NSA program called PRISM gave the agency some kind of backdoor access to Apple's server farms. Cook did his best to deny it. Again.

"Much of what has been said isn't true," Cook told Muir in Friday's prime-time interview. "There is no back door. The government doesn't have access to our servers. They would have to cart us out in a box for that, and that will not happen."

So what information is Apple feeding to the government's spies? Cook says he can't tell us.

"We need to say, what data is being given, how many people it affects, how many accounts are affected. We need to be clear. And we have a gag order on us right now, so we can't say those things."

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for

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