President Donald Trump is no fan of Apple’s refusal to unlock iPhones for authorities in encryption-stymied criminal cases. In an interview with CNBC, Trump said, “Apple has to help us. And I’m very strong on it. They have the keys to so many criminals and criminal minds, and we can do things.”
Trump is currently in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum. This morning, he met with Tim Cook for a working breakfast.
Trump’s interview with CNBC summarized the love-hate relationship he has enjoyed with Apple. “I’ve given them waivers, because it’s a great company, but it made a big difference,” Trump told Squawk Box co-host Joe Kernen.
Trump said he understands both sides of the encryption debate. But, for him, Apple’s obligation to help trumps (no pun intended) the fear of encryption keys getting into the wrong hands. “[When] you’re dealing with drug lords and you’re dealing with terrorists, and if you’re dealing with murderers, I don’t care,” Trump said.
The subject of Apple’s encryption capabilities is hot news right now. That’s because Apple is involved in a case regarding a Saudi Air Force officer who shot dead three Americans at a Pensacola, Florida, naval base in late 2019. Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr accused Apple of not cooperating in the investigation to unlock two iPhones belonging to the suspect. Apple denied the allegations, saying that it is cooperating.
Yesterday, a report claimed Apple ditched plans for strong encryption of iCloud user backups after concern from the FBI. An interview from 2018 alludes to the fact that Apple was planning to introduce a similar feature.