Apple is losing the battle of public opinion over whether it should provide custom software to help the FBI brute-force the passcode on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.
51% of Americans say Apple should “unlock” the phone in question, according to findings from a Pew Research study published on Monday.
Only 38% of Americans say Apple “should not” unlock the phone.
In a motion filed on Friday, the Department of Justice called Apple’s stance on the issue a “marketing strategy,” saying that Apple is taking this stance based on “its concern for its business model.”
If Apple really did decide to take its anti-FBI stand because of marketing, then it’s fighting an uphill battle, according to these recent Pew findings.
In general, opinions on the Apple-FBI issue don’t fall along party lines, although Republican presidential candidates such as Donald Trump and John Kasich have publicly denounced Apple. 56% of Republicans think Apple should unlock the phone. 55% of Democrats agree.
Even iPhone owners believe that Apple should unlock the device in question, with 47% of iPhone-owning Americans saying that Apple should unlock the device, as compared to 43% of iPhone owners who support Apple’s stance.
Many of the people surveyed by Pew were well aware of the issues, with 75% saying they have heard about the situation, and 39% of respondents saying they have heard a lot.
While public opinion is not going to sway the legal battle over the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, it could be critical as the current debate sets up a fight over whether Congress should legislate whether back doors should be built into smartphones.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley from Iowa has requested additional information from the FBI on the encryption problem, and politicians in the House have signalled that encryption issues will ultimately result in legislation, instead of going through the courts alone.
In an open letter written by CEO Tim Cook, Apple has called for “public discussion,” and in an FAQ published on Monday, signalled that if Congress were to form a commission to investigate the issues, that “Apple would gladly participate in such an effort.”
However, Apple’s tone might change if it finds that public opinion stays on the government’s side.