US President Donald Trump called for Apple to “step up to the plate” and suggested the company unlock iPhones used by the gunman behind the 6 December terrorist attack on a Florida Navy base.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump said the US government helps Apple on trade and other issues, so in return the California-based technology giant should unlock phones used by “criminal elements”.
Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook have cultivated a unique working relationship, and these ties likely contributed to Trump negotiating a trade deal with China that will potentially save Apple billions of dollars.
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
Still, US government officials, including Trump’s Attorney General William Barr, have complained that Apple isn’t doing enough to help unlock the iPhones of the Florida attacker.
Apple rejected the assertion that it hasn’t helped, saying that it provided “gigabytes” of data from to cloud backups of the devices.
Apple didn’t directly address the government’s request for it to unlock the devices, but is refusing to build special tools to give investigators access to locked iPhones.
Trump’s tweet is an escalation of a long-running public spat between Apple and the FBI over device security and data encryption.
In 2016, the FBI asked Apple to unlock an iPhone belonging to a shooter behind the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Apple refused, and CEO Cook said building a backdoor into the devices was the “software equivalent of cancer”.
The American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement on Tuesday night, said the Trump administration’s request was “dangerous and unconstitutional, and would weaken the security of millions of iPhones”. — (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP