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Poll: Don’t Help Government Unencrypt Devices

The FOSS Force Poll

The results of our “Apple vs. the FBI” encryption poll are in. Most of our readers agree with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s decision to stand up to the FBI.

Often when we run a poll on FOSS Force, the results only go to confirm what we already know. Our latest completed poll is an example. What we got was exactly what we expected. You don’t think the makers of encrypted devices, or encryption software, should help the G-Men get inside — not even with a warrant.

The poll was our effort to check the pulsebeat of our readers during the recent attempts by the feds to force Apple to crack open the iPhone used by alleged terrorist Syed Farook, who killed 14 and wounded 27 coworkers in San Bernardino in December. Although the FBI’s actions, both their botched attempts to open the device and their ever shifting legal claims, seemed much like something out of a Keystone Cops flick from 100 years ago, the implications were too chilling for most of us to be disposed to do much laughing.

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Our poll asked the question, “Should purveyors of encrypted products be compelled to help law enforcement open encrypted devices?” The answers offered were “Always,” “Only with a warrant,” “Only when terrorism is involved,” and “Never.” A total of 315 of our readers voted in the poll, not a great number, but enough for an inkling of our readers’ thought on the subject. Voting was limited to one vote per person — or more precisely, one vote per computer and/or IP address.

The poll initially ran on a little viewed “members only” page for a few weeks while we worked on poll display issues and was made available to the public last week.

More than three-quarters of the respondents — 240 votes or 76.4 percent for those taking notes — said “Never,” which left little wiggle room for the remaining three possible answers. The runner-up in our race to the NSA was predictably “Only with a warrant,” which gathered 51 votes for 16.2 percent of votes cast. Twenty votes, 6.4 percent, were cast for “Only when terrorism is involved,” with “Always” stalling at the starting gate with three votes, or less than 1 percent.

If there was a surprise at all in these results, it was in the relatively few number of voters choosing the law and order route to vote for allowing encryption product makers to be forced to cooperate if law enforcement came calling with warrant in hand.

One Comment

  1. Nonya Nonya April 7, 2016

    Now we need another poll on whether device makers need to make devices extremely hard or impossible to break into without all data on the device being erased!

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