GOP Candidates Unanimous: Apple Must Comply With Court Order On Terrorist’s Phone

During tonight’s GOP debate, each candidate–except Donald Trump, who didn’t address the issue–took the FBI’s side in its clash with Apple.

GOP Candidates Unanimous: Apple Must Comply With Court Order On Terrorist’s Phone
[Photo: Michael Ciaglo-Pool/Getty Images]

All five Republican candidates for president agree that Apple should be forced to comply with a court order forcing it to grant the FBI access to the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.


During tonight’s Republican debate, each candidate–except Donald Trump, who didn’t speak on the topic–said forcefully that Apple must adhere to the court order.

Last week, a federal court in the central district of California ordered Apple to design new firmware for the iPhone that could give the FBI the ability to access accused San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s phone. The tech company has appealed (PDF) the order, claiming that to do so would undermine the security of hundreds of millions of iPhones.

Apple should “absolutely” be required to comply with the order, Senator Marco Rubio said during the debate, arguing that the phone hadn’t even belonged to Farook, and that the FBI has only asked for the ability to bypass security on the specific phone that would brick it during a brute-force attempt to overcome its password protection.

“Their brand is not superior to the national security of the United States of America,” said Rubio.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas agreed, saying that the order is justified under the Fourth Amendment in large part because the FBI wasn’t asking for a back door into everyone’s phones–just that of the suspected shooter.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson–who, after being ignored for much of the debate joked at one point that another one of the candidates on stage should “attack me”–said that that there are mechanisms in place that allow the government to “gain access to material that will benefit us.”


“I think allowing terrorists to get away with things,” Carson said, “is bad for America.”

Trump, who was very vocal throughout the debate, didn’t get a chance to weigh in on the issue, but said during a rally in South Carolina recently that he supported a boycott of Apple unless and until it complied with the court order.

For his part, Ohio governor John Kasich said during the debate that President Obama shouldn’t be “litigating [this issue] on the front page of the New York Times,” and that Obama should call for a meeting between Apple and “our security forces” that results in “the security people [getting] what they need and [which] protects the rights of Americans.”

Obama did recently convene a tech “dream team” to help combat ISIS on social media.

About the author

Daniel Terdiman is a San Francisco-based technology journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. A veteran of CNET and VentureBeat, Daniel has also written for Wired, The New York Times, Time, and many other publications.