Pew survey: More Americans say Apple should unlock terrorist’s iPhone

Most Americans want Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Most Americans want Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

(Philippe Huguen / AFP)

More than half of Americans say Apple should unlock an iPhone at the center of a escalating battle with the government, a new Pew Resarch Center survey found.

The device, which was owned by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, may be storing information valuable to investigators, but is locked by sophisticated encryption software that Apple is refusing to remove.

Fifty-one percent of the 1,002 adults surveyed by Pew between Feb. 18 and 21 said Apple should unlock the phone. Thity-eight percent of respondents said Apple should not unlock the device.


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The results, while not one-sided by any means, underscore the potential risk Apple faces for its brand as it carries out its fight against the government both in the court of law and public opinion.

Other results show Republicans (56%) and Democrats (55%) in near agreement that Apple should decrypt the device. Independents, meanwhile, were divided: Forty-five percent were in favor of unlocking the phone while 42% said the phone should remain locked.

There was also little age variation. Fifty-four percent of those 65 and older favored the phone being unlocked -- not much more than 47% of 18- to 29-year-olds that also favored unlocking the phone.

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