The FBI is growing frustrated with Apple and their refusal to help them hack into the cell phone owned by San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook. The phone, which is locked and encrypted, may contain information that will help the feds determine the scope of Farook’s terrorist network, investigate accomplices, and perhaps even prevent future attacks. But while those are strong reasons to want the FBI to be granted access, many – including Apple CEO Tim Cook – fear that compliance will jeopardize American privacy.

According to FBI Director James Comey, his agents could not “look the survivors in the eye” if they were not able to investigate Farook’s cell phone. In a blog post Sunday, Comey said, “The San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message. It is about the victims and justice.”

Comey spelled out the nature of what the FBI was asking (well, demanding) Apple to do. As it stands, the phone in question is set to erase all data if a hacker makes ten incorrect attempts at cracking the password. The FBI wants Apple to disable that feature, thus allowing them unlimited brute force attempts. That’s no guarantee that they will be able to get into the phone, but chances are that the Bureau has the capability.

“The relief we seek is limited and its value increasingly obsolete because the technology continues to evolve,” Comey said. “We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist’s passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That’s it.”

This has put Apple in the difficult position of refusing a court order. And it has put them in the even more difficult position of appearing to put a terrorist’s privacy ahead of national security concerns. That is why, in an email to employees on Monday, Cook went out of his way to mention that the company has “no tolerance or sympathy for terrorists.”

“This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation,” Cook wrote, “so when we received the government’s order we knew we had to speak out. At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties.”

There are no easy answers in this situation. Technology has introduced a new series of ethical questions that Americans will have to struggle with in the coming years. Where do we strike the delicate balance between civil liberties and security? Where do we draw the line? How much power do we want to give law enforcement in the interest of preventing terrorism?

At the very least, Apple is right to be cautious.