Apple Inc refusing to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers: Trump
The US President’s comments came a day after US Attorney General William Barr accused Apple of not being helpful in an investigation of a fatal shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida, in December.
US President Donald Trump has hit out at Apple Inc, claiming that the iPhone maker is refusing unlock phones used by criminals while benefiting from government help on trade.
Taking to Twitter, the US President said:
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! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2020
His comments came on Tuesday, a day after US Attorney General William Barr accused Apple of not being helpful in an investigation of a fatal shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida, in December.
In a statement, Apple said that it had provided gigabytes of information to law enforcement related to the Pensacola case but that it would not build a “backdoor” or specialized software to give law enforcement elevated access.
The company can and does, however, hand over data stored on its cloud storage servers to law enforcement officials, which often includes backups of iPhones, including iMessages.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on Trump's tweet. The company said it rejected “the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance” in the investigation into the shooting by a Saudi Air Force officer at the US naval station.
On Monday, Barr called the fatal shooting of three Americans by the naval base “an act of terrorism” and called on Apple to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation unlock two iPhones involved in the case.
Apple said it had responded to seven separate legal requests from federal investigators in December starting the day of the shooting.
According to the company, the FBI did not request help unlocking phones until January 6, with a request for a second iPhone sent on January 8.
The iPhone maker was previously involved in a showdown with the FBI in 2016 when the Justice Department sued it to help it gain access to a phone used by Syed Farook, who was responsible for the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead. The standoff ended when the FBI found an unidentified private vendor, who cracked the phone’s security.
In this case, Apple had said that it did not have the ability to unlock the phone unless it built specialized software it called a “back door.” In the current case, Apple said it opposed back doors of all kinds because they can be exploited by bad actors in addition to providing access to law enforcement.
The company regularly provides information from its servers to law enforcement when it is subpoenaed. According to statistics on its website, Apple has responded to over 127,000 requests for information from law enforcement since 2013.
In a statement on Tuesday, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said: “A federal judge has authorized the Department of Justice to access the contents of the dead terrorist’s phones. Apple designed these phones and implemented their encryption. It’s a simple, 'front-door' request: Will Apple help us get into the shooter’s phones or not?”