Pandora’s iPhone: Apple struggles with US public opinion over San Bernardino device

23 Feb 20166 Shares

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

‘If you leave a backdoor in software there’s no such thing as a backdoor for the good guys only,’ Apple CEO Tim Cook said during a visit to Ireland last year. Cook has sent an email thanking Apple employees for their support

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

More than half (51pc) of Americans believe Apple should unlock the iPhone at the centre of the FBI investigation of the San Bernardino attack, according to new research.

Less than 38pc believe Apple should continue to stand its ground.

Apple CEO Tim Cook last week said he was vehement that Apple would stick to its principles over unlocking an encrypted iPhone.

He has warned that breaking the encryption would set a dangerous precedent that would only create a “backdoor” into the privacy of millions of people, which would be accessible not only by police but also criminals and repressive regimes.

Last year, during a visit to Ireland, Cook warned that encryption is not something that can be regulated. He warned that once the door has been opened it is too late and, in software, there is no such thing as a backdoor for the good guys only.

According to Pew Research, about half of Americans say Apple should unlock the terror suspect’s iPhone. 51pc say Apple should unlock the device, 38pc disagree and 11pc don’t know what to think.

‘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’
– TIM COOK

News about the federal court order demanding Apple unlock the suspect’s iPhone has registered with the US public: 75pc say they have heard either a lot (39pc) or a little (36pc) about the situation.

The latest Pew Research found that almost identical shares of Republicans (56pc) and Democrats (55pc) say that Apple should unlock the San Bernardino suspect’s iPhone to aid the FBI’s ongoing investigation.

By contrast, independents are divided: 45pc say Apple should unlock the iPhone, while about as many (42pc) say they should not unlock the phone to ensure the security of their other users’ information.

Across age groups, adults aged 18-29 are divided over what Apple should do: 47pc say the company should unlock the iPhone, while about as many (43pc) say it should not unlock the phone to ensure the privacy of its other users. Among adults aged 30 and older, somewhat more say Apple should unlock rather than not unlock the San Bernardino suspect’s iPhone. By a 54pc-27pc margin, those 65 and older think Apple should unlock the phone; 18pc do not offer a view.

A dangerous precedent

Tim Cook has sent an email to employees about the FBI’s request to unlock the iPhone. With the subject line “Thank you for your support” Cook explained that the matter was centred on civil liberties.

“This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation, 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,“ Cook said.

‘We’re sympathetic with Apple on this one. We believe in encryption’
– MARK ZUCKERBERG

In the latest twist in the saga, the FBI claims it has succeeded in resetting the password to Syed Farook’s iPhone 5c, severing the ability to connect to Apple’s servers and perform a fresh iCloud backup.

The heart of the issue now is the FBI’s belief that it needs more data from the device than a backup can provide.

At Mobile World Congress yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated his support of the stand by Apple and said that adding backdoor access to encrypted devices would be neither effective or the right thing to do.

“We’re sympathetic with Apple on this one. We believe in encryption,” Zuckerberg said.

“I expect it’s not the right thing to try to block that from the mainstream products people want to use. And I think it’s not going to be the right regulatory or economic policy to put in place.”

66

DAYS

4

HOURS

26

MINUTES

Get your early bird tickets now!

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com