FBI vs. Apple: Citizens Don't Agree Which Side To Support
As the ongoing privacy dispute between the federal government and Apple continues, one thing is becoming clear: a consensus of opinion on the matter from competing tech companies -- not to mention the general public -- just isn't in the cards.
An Ipsos poll this week found that just under half of Americans (46 percent) support Apple’s opposition to the court order demanding that the tech giant create software to bypass the security of its iPhone for the FBI. Thirty-five percent disagreed with the company's decision to fight the demands, and 20 percent didn’t have an opinion.
Within those results, more than half of the respondents agreed that if Apple complied with the government’s request, the data given up would eventually be used to spy on iPhone users. Also, almost three-quarters of the respondents said they wouldn’t be willing to give up e-mail, texting or phone privacy to fight domestic or international terrorism. The results came from an online poll conducted of about 1,600 people that was commissioned by Reuters.
Who’s Behind Apple?
Apple has resisted cooperating with federal authorities’ request to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shootings late last year.
On December 2, Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, shot at people at a holiday gathering for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. The couple killed 14 people and seriously wounded 20 others. Later that day, Farook and his wife were killed in a shootout with police. Since the attack, authorities have been going through their belongings, including their smartphones, trying to determine their motives and whether they were part of a larger terrorist plot.
Younger Americans are more likely to stand behind Apple in this fight, according to the Ipsos poll. Sixty-four percent of people between 18 and 39 years old agreed with the company's decision to oppose the court order, almost twice as many as the percentage of older respondents who support Apple.
Meanwhile, even the most prominent tech company leaders appear to have to measure their words when discussing the situation. Speaking to Financial Times, Microsoft founder Bill Gates classified the government’s request as an isolated case, not a broad demand for user data.
Later, Gates expressed his dismay that his comments were interpreted as support for the government, saying that it will be challenging to figure out where the right to privacy should take precedence over the need to prevent terroristic attacks.
Leaders from Facebook, Google and even Microsoft were more steadfast in their support of Apple. A statement yesterday from Reform Government Surveillance, a coalition of tech companies, including Microsoft, said tech companies shouldn’t be required to build back doors to the technologies that keep their users’ information secure.
Breaking Ranks on Both Sides
Who’s right? Even seasoned tech analysts aren’t sure. We reached Steve Wilson, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, who told us that given the wording of the court order, it might be best for Apple to defy the FBI and take its chances.
"Both sides in the debate clearly have a lot at stake, and frankly, I don't think either Apple or the government are talking straight," said Wilson. "Apple would actually like to get to a higher court where their famous promise of no backdoors could be tested and -- I guess -- found true."
Wilson pointed out that government-connected observers, such as former Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden, have also broken ranks in supporting Apple. "That level of disputation tells you this is largely a political issue, a test case, a precedent in the making," he said.
Posted: 2016-02-29 @ 3:57am PT
Show us the San Bernardino surveillance video.
Apple wants to verify the FBI's story.
Posted: 2016-02-28 @ 10:57am PT
Our poll indicates that there is support for Apple, but would like to get more votes either way. We also have some intriguing information that indicates that the FBI may have already cracked the iPhone in question.
Posted: 2016-02-25 @ 12:24pm PT
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the government's true motive behind pushing Apple on this particular—and unusually high profile—case as opposed to, say, your run of the mill suspected drug dealer. The 'defendants' in this case are dead and thus have no rights to violate, plus everybody hates terrorists, right? They also have the opportunity to make Apple and the rest of the tech community look 'unpatriotic' for resisting or supporting Apple in its resistance of the court order. But it's the proverbial camel's nose under the tent flap. But in reality, one iPhone today turns into millions of them tomorrow. It's just one more slippery step toward a police state. Well, we're probably already there and just don't want to admit it.
Posted: 2016-02-25 @ 12:58am PT
Put the 46% siding with Apple in the "Front Lines" against Terrorism.
Then tell them that Apple is helping to target them.
Posted: 2016-02-24 @ 1:52pm PT
I support Apple's stance. I should have the choice what I keep private. The government should not have that decision over me or anyone else.