Watch Republicans Marco Rubio & Ted Cruz side with FBI in Apple encryption debateAt the last Republican debate before the "Super Tuesday" primaries, the remaining candidates for U.S. president said they believe Apple should help the FBI unlock the iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.
Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Ben Carson were all asked about the iPhone encryption debate at a debate hosted by CNN and Telemundo Thursday night, and all four of them sided with the FBI. Frontrunner Donald Trump was not questioned on the issue, though he has already called for a boycott of Apple until it complies with government requests to help unlock the handset.
Perhaps most surprising was Rubio's response, given that the senator from Florida had previously said that the complex issue required thoughtful debate. But on Thursday, he took a more hardline approach against Apple.
"Apple doesn't want to do it, because they think it hurts their brand," Rubio said. "Well let me tell you, their brand is not superior to the national security of the United States of America."
Sen. Cruz of Texas said he agrees with Apple's "broad policy" that there should not be backdoor access to any iPhone. But he believes that the company should do everything it can to gain access to the iPhone 5c involved in the San Bernardino shooting.
"We should enforce the court order, and find out everyone that terrorist at San Bernardino talked to on the phone, texted with, emailed," Cruz said. "And Apple absolutely doesn't have a right to defy a valid court order."
Moderate candidate and former Ohio governor Kasich took a softer approach, laying blame on President Barack Obama for not brokering a deal in private.
"Where has the president been? You sit down in a back room, and you sit down with the parties, and you get this worked out," Kasich said. "You don't litigate this on the front page of the New York Times, where everybody in the world is reading about their dirty laundry out here."
Finally, retired neurosurgeon Carson said he believes Apple will ultimately be compelled to unlock the iPhone for the FBI.
"I would expect Apple to comply with the court order," Carson said. "If they don't comply with that, you're encouraging chaos in our system."
A U.S. magistrate judge has ordered Apple to comply with FBI requests to help extract data owned by one of the shooters involved in the December terrorist attack. The device in question is a passcode-protected iPhone 5c the FBI seeks to unlock.
Apple, however, has fought back, saying the only way to unlock the handset would be to create a backdoor to iOS— something that does not currently exist. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has said creating such a tool would set a bad precedent and potentially expose mobile devices to security issues.