This question is a regular topic of conversation in the field of mobile forensics, but it moved into the public domain most recently following a tragic and fatal shooting at a US naval base in Pensacola, Florida on the 6th December 2019. This case may be in the United States, but the question is still valid.  

In a public announcement on Monday 13th January, Attorney General William P. Barr raised some information from the case and highlighted that the FBI requested Apple for assistance in unlocking the shooter's phone, allowing investigators to gather data and possible evidence. Barr stated that the tech giant had given 'no substantive assistance' during the press conference, he delivered on Monday.  

Following Barr's comments, Apple responded, stating that they have, and are assisting the FBI with the investigation. 

We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation. Our responses to their many requests since the attack have been timely, thorough and are ongoing.

Read more about the situation here

The Bigger Picture

Would 'back door' technology cause other risks and security threats to governments, companies, citizens and users? Could the codes or access methods be compromised, resulting in criminal exploitation?  

These are very intriguing questions, and mobile forensic communities will be interested to see what impact the naval shooting has on future policies, if at all. The debate continues.