Thursday night’s Republican debate was the knock-down, drag-out, screaming slugfest pundits have been predicting, with both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz attacking frontrunner Donald Trump on everything from his record of hiring foreign workers to his ties to Hillary Clinton. Oh, and Ben Carson wants you to know he and his hands were there, too.
But the one moment that united the bloodthirsty brood, now whittled to just five candidates, came when CNN’s Dana Bash asked about the court order the FBI recently obtained demanding that Apple help the government hack into the San Bernardino shooter’s locked iPhone. The candidates’ consensus: Apple needs to comply.
For Republican candidates—all champions of free market capitalism—taking on the country’s most valuable company is a fraught endeavor.
Rubio, who has sought to align himself with the tech industry throughout this race, said that the government is not asking Apple to unlock the phone itself or “create a backdoor.” Instead, he said, it’s asking Apple to help disable the auto-erase function, which erases data from the phone after ten failed password attempts, so the FBI can break into the phone on its own.
“They are not asking Apple to create a backdoor to encryption,” Rubio said, adding later, “Apple doesn’t want to do it, because they think it hurts their brand.”
Apple, of course, would disagree. On Thursday, Apple issued a motion to dismiss the court order. It reads: “This is not a case about one isolated iPhone. Rather, this case is about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld: the ability to force companies like Apple to undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe.”
For Republican candidates—all champions of free market capitalism—taking on the country’s most valuable company is a fraught endeavor. But this election cycle, as fear about terrorism has reached a boiling point, it seems the candidates on the right have decided that appearing weak on national security would be even more perilous.
And so, when asked, Cruz tried to position himself as even more consistent on the issue than Rubio has been. “The order is not: put a backdoor in everyone’s cell phone. If that was the order, that order would be problematic, because it would compromise security and safety for everyone,” he said. “But on the question of unlocking this cell phone of a terrorist, we should enforce the court order.”
Carson agreed, arguing that Apple’s resistance would create “chaos in the system.” And John Kasich went so far as to say President Obama should convene Apple and the US security forces, “lock the door, and say you’re not coming out until you reach an agreement that gives the security people what they need and protects the rights of Americans.”
The only candidate who wasn’t asked was Trump. But thanks to Twitter, we know where he stands.
Boycott all Apple products until such time as Apple gives cellphone info to authorities regarding radical Islamic terrorist couple from Cal
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2016