Apple Seems to Be Losing PR Battle Over Unlocking iPhone

Apple appears to be losing the public perception battle in its dispute with the Department of Justice, with the majority of those surveyed by Pew Research saying the company should unlock the iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

Some 51 percent of the people who responded to Pew's national survey said Apple should help the FBI access the information stored on the iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of the shooters responsible for the attack on a holiday party that left 14 people dead and another 22 injured.

Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Tim Cook, CEO, Apple

Fewer Americans — 38 percent — said Apple should fight the court's order and preserve the security of users' information, Pew reported.

The issue is not a partisan one: just as many Republicans (56 percent) as Democrats (55 percent) say that Apple should unlock the San Bernardino suspect's iPhone to aid the FBI's ongoing investigation, the survey revealed.

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Independent voters were evenly divided: 45 percent say Apple should help investigators hack the iPhone, while about as many (42 percent) say they company should fight the court's order.

A federal judge last week ordered Apple to furnish software that would disable a security feature and render the device inaccessible after 10 failed password attempts. Turning off "auto erase" would allow federal investors to crack the password using multiple tries.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said the company would oppose the order, arguing that it would force the company to create a master key that would unlock the encryption on millions of devices and leave consumers vulnerable to hackers and cyber criminals.

Pew's findings are based on a survey of 1,002 adults conducted from February 18-21.

By Dawn Chmielewski, Re/code.net.

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