The majority of Americans think Apple should comply with the FBI's demands over unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.
The investigators want Apple to build them a tool that'll bypass the iPhone's security measures, but the company refuses to do so because it will set a "dangerous precedent" and put iPhone owners everywhere at risk. The device is believed to hold important clues regarding the incident.
According to a study conducted between Feb. 18 and 21 by the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of the 1,002 adults surveyed agree that Apple should give in to the FBI's request, whereas a lower figure of 38 percent says that the company shouldn't do so to ensure the safety of other users. The remaining 11 percent does not have an opinion on the matter.
On the other hand, the views of other iPhone owners aged 18 to 29 had a narrower difference, as 47 percent say Apple should unlock the iPhone and 43 percent say otherwise. Moreover, the older age groups up to 65-years-old and above side with the FBI. In other words, most Americans believe that the company should help in the case.
"In general over recent years when it comes to anti-terrorism efforts, we find the public tends to prioritize keeping the country safe over concerns about civil liberties," Alec Tyson, a senior researcher at the institute, tells PCWorld, noting that the results shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai and whistleblower Edward Snowden were among the first to show support for the Cupertino brand's stand, which were followed by Huawei. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also expressed his agreement with Apple and voiced out his opinion again at the 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
"We're sympathetic with Apple. We believe in encryption. We think that that's an important tool. I don't think requiring backdoors with encryption is either going to be an effective way to increase security or is really the right thing to do for just the direction that the world is going to," Zuckerberg told the audience at the event.
Last week, a federal judge ordered Apple to aid the FBI and develop a completely new operating system solely to bypass the iPhone's security. The Pew Research Center says that 75 percent of the people surveyed have heard a lot (39 percent) or a little (36 percent) about this particular piece of news.
The investigators need the company's help because the iPhone will automatically erase its data after 10 incorrect entries of the passcode. The handset also sets a delay between each attempt and requires manual input as opposed to plugging it into a supercomputer of sorts to crack the code.
It's also worth noting that this entire kerfuffle could've been avoided if the passcode of the iPhone in question had not been changed, with Apple presenting a solution that didn't require a backdoor. Reports say that it was modified after the FBI got ahold of the handset in less than 24 hours.
Despite the survey results and the public's dominant consensus, this should not have an impact on Apple's legal case and refusal to cooperate.
"The courts should not be swayed at all," says Susan Hennessey, managing editor of Lawfare.