More than half of Americans think Apple should give into FBI demands


Most Americans thinks Apple should comply with FBI.
Photo: Apple

The FBI claims Apple’s resistance to its demands to hack the San Bernardino terrorist’s are part of a marketing brand strategy, but if it is, it’s not one that the American people support.

A new poll from the Pew Public Research Center has revealed that over half of the country opposes Apple’s position in its privacy battle against the FBI, while only 38% of Americans think Apple should not unlock the iPhone to ensure the security of its customer’s private data.

Apple’s battle has spilled out into the public stage in a big way, with some claiming it could be the most important tech issue in a decade. Of the 1000 respondents reached by phone over the weekend for the Pew Poll, 75% said they had heard a lot about the issue.

The study found that the reaction was practically equal in both parties with 56% of Republicans supporting the FBI’s position, while 55% of Democrats felt the same. Apple did slightly better among iPhone owners, with 47% saying it should comply with the FBI while 43% said it should not.

Independents who lean Democrat were the only group with a majority in favor of Apple not unlocking the iPhone. Apple has made a strong push to get out in front of the battle it faces with FBI. The company published a public letter last week explaining its position, then followed it up with a new Q&A section today explaining why creating a backdoor into iOS, even for this one terrorist’s phone, could compromise the security of all of Apple’s users.

Cult of Mac conducted its own poll when the news of Apple’s fight against the FBI first broke. Out of 1,658 votes, 73% said Apple should not create a backdoor into the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone 5c.

  • Eric

    Well, more than half of Americans are retarded then.

    • Geoff

      Watched the US election coverage from Canada makes you wonder

      • Eric

        Well played.

    • DrMuggg

      Just seeing Trump confirms it :-)

    • Lets hope the medias soon cease to use the term “americans” in favor for USians, I’m sick of being associated with stuff like that, like everybody in every other non-USA american country.

      And yet I’m sure they’ll instead, under Trump, rename their country the United States of Earth and start abusing that.

  • Titus213

    I would expect that more than 75% of Americans don’t even understand what the FBI has asked for. They certainly don’t understand to consequences of giving in to them.

    • flatrock

      I bet the percentage is considerably higher, I’m however not so sure that if they understood, the percentage wanting Apple to comply wouldn’t be even higher.

      The security vulnerability that the FBI is asking Apple to exploit for them is that iOS can be updated without first unlocking the phone. The iOS binary must be digitally signed using Apple’s key or the phone won’t load and run it. If the binary is modified, the signature is no longer valid, so as long as the signing key is kept secure, only Apple can exploit this vulnerability.

      Apple is claiming that if they create a hacked version of iOS it could be used on any iPhone, but that is not what the FBI has asked for, they have asked that the hacked version of iOS be tied to an unmodifiable hardware id specific to the iPhone in question so that it will only run on that particular iPhone. The same requirement of a signature that protects against other modifications will prevent a third party from modifying the hacked version of iOS to run on any other iPhone. The hack is locked to that specific phone.

      Cook is spreading misinformation about what they have been asked to do and the consequences. The court order even allows for the unlocking of the phone to be done at Apple, by Apple. They can hack the unlock counter, bruteforce the passcode, extract the data from the phone, and then load the old OS image back onto the phone. This is very similar to what Apple did in response to warrants with prior versions of iOS. Law enforcement sent Apple the phone, Apple sent back the phone along with a copy of the data on the phone.

      The difference is that Apple has taken a stance of no longer complying with lawful warrants. Apple left themselves a back door by allowing the OS to be updated on a locked phone. I find it difficult to believe that was unintentional or overlooked. If Apple doesn’t already have a tool to exploit this, it is because they have explicitly banned their developers from creating one. Disabling the counter and timer for trying passwords can’t a significant technical effort, and locking such a modified version to a specific hardware id is only marginally more difficult.

      Cook decided to grandstand and claim that Apple could no longer comply with even valid warrants, the FBI is calling him on that, and Cook is doubling down on the grandstanding and hyperbole.

      He may still win the appeal if he can convince the courts that modifying, signing and loading a slightly different OS on the phone places an undue burden on Apple. The undue burden standard is based on precedence, isn’t codified into law and is therefore somewhat nebulous. It is possible that the court will decide to kick it back to Congress by deciding that without a law specifying what should be done in this case, it defaults to being an undue burden. However, the courts have been less and less willing to allow Congress to determine such things and neither the courts or Congress have had much sympathy for those not wanting to comply with valid warrants.

      Nor has the public generally had much sympathy with those refusing to comply with valid warrants, so I suspect that if the courts don’t force Apple to comply, Congress will require their help through legislation.

      The FBI kept their request very narrow. Apple wants to discuss hypothetical situations and the big picture, but in the specific case at hand, I don’t think the court is going to be moved by misdirection and hyperbole.

      • Titus213

        As I understand it what the FBI wants is a hacked version of the OS that will disable the delete after 10 failures, and disable the incremental time lapse on tries. They also want to be able to do the brute force hacking via computer. And sure, Apple should be able to ‘fix’ what the FBI asked them to break, but why should they. Whose problem is this?

        The feds screwed this thing up when they let two terrorists into the country without vetting them properly. And then one of them got a job with a state government agency, another vetting failure. Couple this with the FBI’s track record of securing state secrets and I’ll say it again, I wouldn’t let the feds in the same building with the code to do what they ask.

      • aardman

        Even if that code is specifically tied to that one iPhone, a precedent would have been set where a third party can be compelled to write code to assist in a search. This is no different from forcing General Motors to manufacture a one-off component with a built in snooping device which law enforcement would then install surreptitiously on a surveillance target’s GM vehicle. (The feds are allowed to build that component on their own, they are allowed to ask GM to build that component, but heretofore, they were not allowed to force GM to build that component.) What the FBI is asking is a significant and dangerous expansion of the government’s search and seizure powers.

      • flatrock

        Apple had software tools to extract the data from previous versions of iOS. So it really isn’t all that much of a precedent. What is different is that Apple changed their OS so that the user’s pin is required to get access to the data because that pin is used in the encryption. Before Apple could bypass the pin in order to comply with a warrant.
        The process has more steps and might take a little more time, but is really just a different security measure Apple put in place and is capable of bypassing.
        The problem with your example using GM is that the government has other means of performing the search in that case. It is a unreasonable burden to place on GM when their help isn’t required.
        Apple intentionally made it so that only they and the user with the pin can access the data. Then Cook went and made a bold statement that Apple would no longer be complying with law enforcement warrants. It actually said they couldn’t but that wasn’t true.
        He threw down the gauntlet and said Apple wouldn’t comply with valid warrants. He thumbed his nose at law enforcement and our legal system.
        He pronounced not complying with valid warrants as a feature of the new iOS. People that intentionally put roadblocks in the way of police trying to execute a valid warrant usually get charged with contempt and tossed in jail.
        Cook did set a precedent, and dis so in a way that the government really can’t allow to go unchallenged.

    • And 100% of people who are on Apple’s side don’t understand that Apple can close any backdoors they create just by updating the OS.

      Consider that IOS7 had the “backdoor” that allowed Apple to get the information.
      When Apple upgraded to IOS8, this “backdoor” was closed. This is a FACT.

      Anything Apple does to open up Farook’s phone, is something they can easily “close.”

      This is just Tim Cook grandstanding.

      • jon lemaster

        Sorry but your response is naive. Of course Apple can close the backdoor, but the issue is the government (the FBI in this case) requesting to force Apple to create the backdoor in the first place. This sets a precedent that other governments, such as China, are closely watching so that they then can begin making similar requests. it’s definitely a slippery slope, and I’d rather err on the side of Apple on this one. I enjoy my privacy and am glad is standing up for protection of our rights. [You can’t trust the government, and do you really want to entrust them with your info? They can’t even keep their own agents information secret…

      • Give me the keys to your house as well as all the passwords and login ID’s to all of your computers. You seem to not value your (or anyone else’s) privacy. I bet if the FBI demanded access to your house, you’d give in.

      • Titus213

        I don’t believe that – see my response above.

      • FreeManinAmerica

        If the FBI and the phone’s owner, the County of San Bernardino, had simply requested assistance in unlocking the phone without creating something the FBI could use again, Apple might have consented. Apple has helped retrieve data from other phones belonging to deceased users. But the FBI is grandstanding to leverage a stupid government failure in securing the border to get Apple to compromise their security regime. The FBI is dead wrong, and should stand down. Any judge who can read the Constitution should deny the FBI its request.

      • mindbomb2000

        So Erwin, let’s say the FBI wins, and Apple is forced to create the firmware they are being asked to create, thus potentially making the current iOS venerable… Then Apple closes that door on the next iOS. Well, the precedent has now been set. So the next case comes up, and once again Apple is forced to comply. Round and round. Not to mention the fact that the end game here is to have a permanent “backdoor” on all phones.

      • flatrock

        Apple wouldn’t be making the current OS vulnerable. The vulnerability is that the OS can be updated on a locked phone. However the phone will only load a OS that is digitally signed by Apple. The court order requires.that the hacked OS be locked to the specific pbone hardware id. It will ony load on that particular phone and modifying it to run on a different phone would require the modified version being signed by Apple.

      • mindbomb2000

        Very interesting. I appreciate the info, and will consider it as I think this through.

      • DrMuggg

        They can Close it. But they will not be allowed to by the FBI.

      • Nicnacnic

        And Apple is also going to force everyone to run that iOS update? And the FBI will allow an update to close their access? Once the door is open a little bit, it’s open all the way for good.

  • Geoff

    Awful headline. How do you take 1,000 respondents and infer that that represents the whole US populace, It’s roughly .0002 of a percent.

    The FBI won’t find anything of use on the phone and it is more an issue to use this case to gain access to future phones as all other devices involved were physically destroyed beyond recovery.

    • Eric

      Come on, Geoff. The FBI said they don’t have precedence in mind. We should trust them.

      • Geoff

        How could you not trust any of your acronym’d agencies in the US? What ill could possibly come of it?

      • FreeManinAmerica

        Love the sarcasm.

  • Jay Pearson

    I want to know who these people are that they polled……everyone I have talked to agrees with Apple……and how many people did they poll…1000……hardly a true representation of America

    • FreeManinAmerica

      They polled Federal employees… Just sayin’

  • WBB Fan

    Most Americans are not tech savvy enough to understand the ramifications – and if they get their news from the typical media outlets they’re going to be uninformed. Makes me want to pull my hair out!

  • Eugene Kyle

    The San Bernardino shooters has managed to put fear and terror in the hearts of many. Now, through their own bungling, the DOJ has aided and abetted the shooters in their quest to terrorize all of us by demanding that our rights to privacy be abated. I say no! If the DOJ wins, the shooters win. Hands down.

  • Ch3sko

    Hey Buster! Here is a fun game for the FBI supporters.

    “FBI orders Apple to create a backdoor to the iPhone in order to investigate a terrorist attack”

    To the FBI supporters:
    1.- Shut up and calm down a little.
    2.- Breathe.

    3.- Replace FBI with Russia/China/Venezuela.

    4.- Think about that for a second.

    Have fun.

    • This is the true sentiment of Most Americans: they hate their government so much they equate them to Communists.

      • Mike Scivally

        No Erwin, We don’t hate the government so much that we equate them to communists. We are saying that if our own government can force a company like Apple to do this, what makes you think that other governments are not going to ask for or force the same. Communist or otherwise. Why are we so quick to give up civil liberties?

      • FreeManinAmerica

        We don’t hate the federal government; we fear it. It is incompetent at best, and evil at worst. Why else would the federal government resettle military age foreign invaders in our midst against the will of the local communities? Why else would the federal government violate the Constitution by telling states they aren’t entitled to decide that proof of citizenship is required to register to vote? Why else would the federal government let Hillary Clinton keep secret content on an unsecured private mail server?

        Hell no, we don’t trust the current federal government. Armed agents of the federal government roan the land, and there is nothing in the Constitution that grants police powers to the federal government.

        You should actually read the Constitution and the history of its creation before you malign those who have done so and oppose the wrongful acts of the leviathan that has grown up to abuse our God-given rights.

  • c_hack

    Nobody trust the government anymore:
    – They’ve been illegally spying on everyone since 9/11
    – They completely incompetent when it comes to cyber security
    – There is no doubt that if they acquire a method to break the security on any iPhone it will quickly get into the hands of hackers and all our personal info, financial info, and identities will be in jeopardy.

    Having said that, they have a right with a court order to search the contents of a phone. If Apple created a system that prevented execution of a search order and are preventing its execution, they may be in legal trouble.

  • LOL “Cult of Mac made its own poll and 73% favored Apple.” Well DUH this is an Apple-lovers site of COURSE the results would be unbiased. Right?

    • Pc

      Your comments are telling me that you were born as a defect sperm.

  • FreeManinAmerica

    In a separate study, 72% of Americans polled believed they possessed above average intelligence.

  • Titus213

    Never let a crisis go to waste. And if you can’t find a crisis? Create one.

    Keep in mind that the same government that let these folks into the country despite ample proof they would create an issue are the ones who now want access to your secured data.

  • Undivided

    More than half Americans understand that national security is higher in priority then someone’s false sense of privacy intrusions. Honestly, anyone who is in favor of Apple protecting terrorists in the name of privacy is absolutely unamerican.

  • Bri

    Even if Apple breaks the OS and hands the data off to the FBI the knowledge base of how to hack the OS exists and that for me is the key to this.

    In 10 years time when a huge majority of cars are using encryption for software to complete journeys autonomously from point A to point B ask the relevant government if that want that encryption to be rock solid or hackable.

  • aardman

    Haven’t seen the Pew survey report but if it has the word ‘terrorist’ in any of the questions, it’s automatically invalid.

  • Barzuma

    All you have to do is scream “Terrorist!” and some people immediately go, “Here, take control of my privacy, I have no use for it anyway.”

  • Paul

    Lol really so Americans want the FBI to have access to the iphone and they want Trump as prez…what a year 2016 is turning out to be.