Americans support the Department of Justice over Apple Inc. in the debate over unlocking a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.
According to the data collected from 1,002 American adults, 51 percent say Apple should unlock the phone, while only 38 percent say the company should not. 11 percent did not offer an opinion.
The dispute began after a U.S. magistrate ordered Apple to unlock the cellphone of Syed Rizwan Farook to aid the government in the FBI investigation of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California on Dec. 3 when Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, shot and killed 14 of Farook’s colleagues at a holiday party.
Since the order, both Apple and the government have vied for support from the American public.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, expressed that Apple would refuse the judges order to unlock the phone due to a fear of invasion of privacy in a “customer letter” posted on the Apple website on Feb. 16.
“The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals,” said Cook. “We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack.”
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey posted on Lawfare, a national security blog in opposition to Apple’s reaction, asking for understanding and support for the government from the American people after such a tragic event.
“So I hope folks will remember what terrorists did to innocent Americans at a San Bernardino office gathering and why the FBI simply must do all we can under the law to investigate that,” said Comey.
Comey also emphasized that the American people should have the ultimate decision about their privacy and well-being.
“Although this case is about the innocents attacked in San Bernardino, it does highlight that we have awesome new technology that creates a serious tension between two values we all treasure: privacy and safety,” said Comey. “That tension should not be resolved by corporations that sell stuff for a living. It also should not be resolved by the FBI, which investigates for a living. It should be resolved by the American people deciding how we want to govern ourselves in a world we have never seen before”