Americans Agree That Feds’ iPhone-Cracking Order Will Worsen Data Security — and They Still Want Apple to Comply

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Apple CEO Tim Cook.Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

If there’s one thing Americans love, it’s privacy. If there’s another thing they love, it’s sacrificing privacy in the hopes of improving security. A new poll taken over the past two days by the firm Morning Consult about Apple’s legal standoff against the FBI found that a majority of Americans (54 percent) believe that their “personal information and data would be less secure” if Apple is forced to unlock the iPhone owned by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook — but a majority (51 percent) still believe Apple should comply with the order.

Those numbers would seem to contradict the easy narrative that Americans are supporting the FBI because they don’t understand enough about the case to realize what’s at stake. (Maybe basing your opinions on all Americans against some tech people you follow on Twitter isn’t the best way to come to any real conclusions.)

Morning Consult also found that, of tech CEOs, Apple’s Tim Cook is second-most popular only to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; they received 39 and 48 percent favorable opinions, respectively. While framed by Morning Consult as a positive — second-most favorable! — when paired with the recent finding from Pew Research Center that 51 percent of Americans support the government in its fight to force Apple to write software that will allow it to break into iPhones, it doesn’t sound quite as good.

Notably, five Americans came out strongly in support of the FBI last night: our fine, remaining Republican candidates. Marco Rubio, previously Silicon Valley’s No. 1 suck-up in the race, said, “They are not asking Apple to create a backdoor to encryption … Apple doesn’t want to do it, because they think it hurts their brand.” That may hurt his chances with whatever Republicans he might’ve been able to round up in tech; Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook said yesterday they intend to file amicus briefs in support of Apple.