(Reuters) – President Donald Trump lashed out at Apple Inc on Tuesday, punishing the iPhone manufacturer for what he said was his refusal to unlock phones used by criminals while benefiting from government help in commerce.
Trump’s tweet came in the midst of the investigation into the fatal shooting of three Americans by a Saudi Air Force officer at the US Naval Station. UU. In Pensacola, Florida, last month, that Attorney General William Barr called “an act of terrorism” on Monday.
The episode marks the latest outbreak in a privacy debate between technology companies such as Apple and Facebook Inc and the authorities.
Technology companies argue that strong encryption protects the privacy and security of their users, while law enforcement officials say criminals have used technology to evade justice and asked technology companies to provide a way to decipher it, using high profile cases like Pensacola and the 2015 mass shooting by Islamic militants in San Bernardino, California, as examples.
Trump on Tuesday had harsh words for Apple.
“We are helping Apple all the time in COMMERCE and in many other matters, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by murderers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements,” the president of the United States said on Twitter. “They will have to step forward and help our great country, NOW!” He said.
Apple has said it cannot access data that is encrypted with an access code and stored on an iPhone and that it would have to build a specific tool to do so, known in the technology industry as a “backdoor.” However, the company can and does. , deliver data stored on your cloud storage servers to law enforcement officials, which often includes backup copies of iPhones, including iMessages.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on Trump’s tweet. On Monday, the company said it rejected “the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance.”
Earlier on Monday, Barr asked Apple to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation unlock two iPhones involved in the Pensacola case.
Apple said it had responded to seven separate legal requests from federal investigators in December, beginning the day of the shooting.
The company said it delivered “many gigabytes” of data to researchers, including iCloud backups, account information and transactional data from several accounts. Apple said the FBI did not request help unlocking phones until January 6, with a request for a second iPhone sent on January 8.
“A federal judge authorized the Department of Justice to access the contents of the dead terrorists’ phones. Apple designed these phones and implemented their encryption. It’s a simple “gateway” request: will Apple help us get into the shooter’s phones or not? “Kerri Kupec, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said in a statement Tuesday.
In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union called Trump’s claim “dangerous and unconstitutional” and said it would weaken the security of millions of iPhones.
“There is simply no way for Apple, or any other company, to provide the FBI with access to encrypted communications without also providing it to authoritarian foreign governments and weakening our defenses against criminals and hackers,” said the ACLU.
After the shooting in San Bernardino, California, in 2015, federal investigators eventually turned to third-party cybersecurity firms to get help unlocking the shooter’s device.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the devices used by the Pensacola shooter were older models of iPhone 5 and iPhone 7 and cited cybersecurity experts saying that commercial companies could probably decipher them.
Report by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Additional report by Eric Beech in Washington, D.C .; Edition by Leslie Adler