Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that Apple and other technology companies should cooperate with U.S. investigators. Meanwhile, U.S. law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate last month’s fatal shooting at a U.S. naval base in Florida. U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at Apple on Twitter Tuesday, saying it had received help from the U.S. government on trade issues but refused to help law enforcement officials unlock phones in criminal investigations.
Last month, Three people were killed in a shooting attack by Saudi Air Force member Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani at the Naval Air Base in Pensacola, Florida. The FBI is trying to unlock two iPhones involved. This week, William Barr, the justice secretary, called on Apple to help.
U.S. executives’ pressure on Apple has revived concerns about privacy protections in the digital age. Apple and other technology companies argue that powerful encryption protects users, while U.S. law enforcement officials counter that encryption allows criminals to evade justice.
“I understand the president’s view that working with law enforcement is absolutely critical for technology companies,” Mnuchin said in an interview. “
Mnuchin later told reporters at the White House that he had not discussed the issue with Apple and did not know the details. “I know Apple has worked with law enforcement in the past, and I hope they will continue to do so,” he said. “
Apple has said it has helped Pensacola investigators by providing other data, including iCloud backups, multiple account information and transaction data, but it has no access to encrypted data stored on real devices because of the lack of a so-called “backdoor”.