Steve Bannon says it's 100% appropriate for the US government to force Apple to backdoor iPhones

Phil Schiller iPhone 11 keynote
Phil Schiller iPhone 11 keynote (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Steve Bannon has said that President Trump will "drop the hammer" on tech companies that don't cooperate with investigators seeking information.
  • He further suggested that Apple should treat the tweets of President Trump "like a papal bull."
  • When asked if he thought it was appropriate for the government to force Apple to provide backdoor access to phones he said: "Yes, a hundred percent".

In an interview with CNBC, Steve Bannon has stated that he believes it is 100% appropriate for the US government to force Apple to provide backdoor access to iPhones.

In wake of ever-growing chatter around the FBI and Apple's role in assisting the government with unlocking the phones of criminals, Bannon interviewed with the network on Wednesday, January 15.

When asked "Do you believe it's appropriate for the US government to force Apple to provide a.. backdoor access to those phones?" he replied:

"Yes, a hundred percent, I don't think there's any doubt."

Any such tool would work on every iPhone, not just the phones in this story, an unbelievably dangerous prospect that would severely undermine the security of iOS.

When asked if he thought that was antithetical to US criticism of the Chinese government and its relationship with Huawei, he disputed the notion on the basis that Apple remains a private company, in contrast, he said: "Huawei is the PLA." (People's Liberation Army)

On Tim Cook and Donald Trump, he said that recent events would change their relationship dramatically and that the President was going to "drop the hammer on this." He further said:

"If I were the guys at Apple, I would pay attention to President Trump's tweets... I would treat his tweets like a papal bull."

Bannon is of course not part of President Trump's administration and does not speak on its behalf, however, the very suggestion that it would be appropriate for a government to force a private company to turn on its users in the manner suggested is a pretty bold and evocative statement.

The airwaves have been awash with this story over the last week or so. Most recently it emerged that the FBI reportedly extracted data from a locked iPhone 11 Pro Max in 2019, further calling into question the need for Apple to create a backdoor to iOS.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

6 Comments
  • When the village i***t says something MUST be done, that's proof enough for me that it's a bad idea.
  • So (according to Bannon) it's appropriate for any government to force "their" makers of smartphones to backdoor them? How about network infrastructure components?
  • Another day another shooting and another one distracting from gun law
  • You know that the far majority of the shooters have some kind of psychiatric medication? And Japan and one of the Nordic countries (I forget which), has the same % of guns to people with the same access iirc, yet less gun violence? They also have less psychiatric meds. Also some of the bat-bleep crazy people do it for fame. There's a lot more fame to be had with it in the US than if they did it in Japan/Norway. Does anyone talk about that Japanese guy who attacked the Anime studio outside of Japan and maybe Anime circles?
  • Please, iMore, no more stories about what this individual thinks. Thank you.
  • I agree - they should force Apple to make these back doors, because of crimes! CRIMES! Speaking of doors, I think that they should also force all contractors to make houses with back doors that authorities can enter at any time too. But only authorities, not bad guys of course. I don't know if you've heard about this, but crimes go on inside of houses! In case you didn't get it, /s.