A total of 51 percent of Americans think that Apple needs to cooperate with the feds and unlock the iPhone, a task that is within the technical grasp of Apple’s employees, since the iPhone in question is version 5c and does not feature hardware encryption. Rather, the iPhone 5c features software encryption. As a result, it’s vulnerable to a firmware update over USB. This update would allow the FBI to attach a laptop to the phone and speed up the number of brute force passcode guesses without running the risk of losing all the data from incorrect guesses.
Only 38 percent of Americans think Apple should try and fight off the FBI, so as not to create a precedent dangerous to the privacy of other users.
The older the respondent, the more likely they were to argue that Apple should unlock the phone. While only 47 percent of the 18-29 age group sided with the Justice Department, 54 percent of the 65+ crowd did.
For those who actually own iPhones, 47 percent side with the feds, and just 43 percent think that Apple should avoid compromising the data of users. The number increases slightly for users who have smartphones other than the iPhone, with 53 percent saying Apple should comply.
Republicans and Democrats were nearly identical in their support of the Justice Department at 56 and 55 percent, respectively. Only 45 percent of Independents agreed.
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump recently bashed Apple CEO Tim Cook for writing a letter to customers, in order to justify his decision not to cooperate with the federal government. Trump called for a boycott of Apple products, continuing a previous criticism of the company, namely that it produces products outside of the United States and hence exports jobs that ought to be domestically located. Others in Congress continued the criticism of Trump. GOP Sen. Tom Cotton derided Apple for choosing to “protect a dead ISIS terrorist’s privacy over the security of the American people.”
Pew conducted the survey from 18-21 using a sample size of 1,002 adults. The margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
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