Apple Now Draws More Public Support Than FBI, New Poll Finds

Earlier this week, the Pew Research Center reported that 51% of Americans sided with the FBI in its battle with Apple over a locked iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

But a new survey by Ipsos for Reuters casts doubt on Pew's findings. The Ipsos poll, released today, says that 46% of respondents agree with Apple in its well-publicized fight with the FBI. More than one in three -- 35% -- disagree with Apple, and 18% aren't sure of their position. The results are from an online survey of 1,500 people.

The FBI wants Apple to create software that will disable a security feature that prevents hackers from repeatedly testing different passwords on the phone.

Apple says that once such software exists, it could be used to hack other devices.

Late last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym in the Central District of California granted the FBI's request. Apple is mounting a legal challenge to that order.

What accounts for the different poll results? One factor could be that Ipsos pollsters told respondents of Apple's concern that complying with the FBI's request would set a precedent.

A large majority of respondents (69%) said they would not give up email privacy -- even to help assist in thwarting terrorism; an even larger proportion (75%) said they would not give up text-message privacy to help thwart terrorism.

More than half of respondents (55%) said they believed the government would "spy on iPhone users" once it had the software to do so.

While the results are worth noting, ultimately it is up to the courts to decide whether to force Apple to create software that could enable hacking.

If so, the technique almost certainly will be used by authorities on other phones. Already, the FBI has reportedly asked judges around the country to order Apple to help access iPhones or iPads on at least 15 occasions since last October. Those requests are currently pending in seven different federal courts,

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