U.S. President Donald Trump is continuing to push for Apple to unlock iPhones belonging to criminals and terrorists when requested to do so by law enforcement. The President claims the company has “the keys to so many criminals and criminal minds.”
“Apple has to help us. And I’m very strong on it,” Trump told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “They have the keys to so many criminals and criminal minds, and we can do things.”
“I’ve given them waivers because it’s a great company, but it made a big difference,” Trump said.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has asked Apple for help in unlocking a pair of iPhones used by the terrorist who killed three people in Pensacola, Florida in December. Barr says Apple has so far provided no “substantive assistance” to the investigation.
Although Apple has refused to help unlock the gunman’s physical phone, they did provide access to his iCloud account within hours of receiving the request. iCloud backups can contain contact information, photos, and texts from iMessage and other messaging apps.
Numerous governments and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and numerous U.S. police departments, have been pushing for new laws that would force Apple, Google, and other device makers and software publishers to provide backdoors into their devices and apps that would allow law enforcement a way to view communications between parties of interest.
In June, it was reported that the Trump administration was considering the possibility of making end-to-end encryption – like that used in iMessage and other messaging apps – illegal in the United States.
Apple, other tech companies, and privacy advocates all insist a backdoor to encryption weakens it, as it would also provide a way for bad actors to gain access to the same information.
A recent report claimed that over two years ago, Apple told the FBI it was planning on rolling out end-to-end encryption for iCloud backups, but dropped the plan in the face of objections raised by the feds.