It seems Tim Cook is taking it pretty seriously and I applaud him. Apple is in the position to help freedom in a way but no politician could ever accomplish because technology is the enabler of human progress.
I'm not so sure of this, technology is what allows all the surveillance to begin with. To take things to the extreme think of primitive people with no technology and the freedom to do whatever they want, put anything in their bodies, go wherever they please, etc.
This guy actually compares the situation to the moral responsibility of nuclear scientists in the 1940s. I think this isn't quite a parallel not so much because of the stakes but because he is asking people to go beyond their jobs and become activists where as the 1940s guys (including Einstein) were petitioning existing leaders.