Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said today his office will no longer provide iPhones to prosecutors and other employees after Apple Inc.’s refusal to help the FBI unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists.
Montgomery made the announcement today.
“Apple’s refusal to cooperate with a legitimate law enforcement investigation to unlock a phone used by terrorists puts Apple on the side of terrorists instead of on the side of public safety,” Montgomery, a Republican, said in a statement. “Positioning their refusal to cooperate as having anything to do with privacy interests is a corporate PR stunt and ignores the Fourth Amendment protections afforded by our Constitution.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook is fighting the FBI effort and a lower court order telling the Cupertino, California-based technology giant to find a way to unlock a phone.
Apple, Cook and other techies worry about privacy and the possibility of the unlocking of the San Bernardino phone ending up exposing other iPhone users to possible hacks down the road.
Privacy advocates also contend that police and prosecutors will make more and more requests to open smartphones in security and other cases.
Police can sometimes build a case based on a defendant’s smartphone.
The FBI counters it just wants access to a San Bernardino County-issued iPhone to shooter Syed Farook. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and injured 22 in an ISIS-inspired mass shooting in the Los Angeles suburb.
Apple’s privacy position has support among millennials and in a number of media narratives.
Apple and other big technology and telecommunication companies are sensitive to privacy concerns after being compelled by the U.S. government and National Security Agency to turn over massive amounts of user data in recent years.
A new poll by the Pew Research Center found 51 percent of those surveyed think Apple should open the iPhone while 38 percent back the tech company’s position.