Donald Trump has hit out at Apple after it refused to unlock the iPhone of a suspected terrorist shooter who killed three sailors last month, setting the firm on another collision course with the authorities over its stance on user privacy.
In a developing story reminiscent of the San Bernardino shootings four years ago, Apple declined to help the FBI unlock the smartphone of 21-year-old Royal Saudi Air Force lieutenant who went on a killing spree at Pensacola Air Force base.
Although it claimed to have given the FBI “all of the data in our possession” when approached by agents a month ago, Apple maintained that bypassing the killer’s passcodes would create a dangerous precedent.
“We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers,” it said in a statement.
“Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations. We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users’ data.”
However, that wasn’t good enough for attorney general William Barr, who has previously slammed tech companies for their stance on encryption, and Trump, who took to Twitter to share his ire with the world.
“We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great Country, NOW!” he wrote.
The world’s leading encryption experts agree with Apple and other tech firms that creating backdoors for law enforcers would ultimately undermine security for hundreds of millions of legitimate business and personal users.
In 2018 they penned an open letter to FBI director, Christopher Wray, asking him to explain the technical basis for the Feds’ repeated claims that encryption backdoors can be engineered without impacting user security.
That request remains unanswered.