Poll: Apple's privacy fight does not win extra points for security

Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:17am EDT
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By Jim Finkle

(Reuters) - Most Americans trust Apple Inc to protect their personal information from hackers, according to a national Reuters/Ipsos poll, but not any better than rivals Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

The results of the poll were released late on Monday, in the middle of a legal battle between Apple and the U.S. Justice Department over a judge's order that Apple write new software to disable passcode protection on the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters.

The two sides were set to face off in court on Tuesday, but late on Monday a federal judge in Riverside, California, agreed to the government's request to postpone the hearing after U.S. prosecutors said that a "third party" had presented a possible method for opening an encrypted iPhone.

The development could bring an abrupt end to the high-stakes legal showdown which has become a lightning rod for a broader debate on data privacy in the United States, which was inflamed by revelations in 2013 from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the U.S. government's massive surveillance programs.

When asked if they trust Apple to protect data from hackers, 60 percent of respondents said they strongly agreed or somewhat agreed, according to the poll, conducted March 11 to 16.

That is in line with responses to the same questions about Alphabet Inc's Google, Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp.

The poll found only one in 10 people consider security options such as encryption and passcode protection to be the most important considerations when shopping for a new phone. Performance and price were far ahead, each ranked as the most important factor by about a third of those polled.

"Security is one of these things that gets people in trouble when it lapses, but it’s not something consumers are going to be shopping for," said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson.   Continued...

People gather at a small rally in support of Apple's refusal to help the FBI access the cell phone of a gunman involved in the killings of 14 people in San Bernardino, in Santa Monica, California, United States, February 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson