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Apple Denies FBI Request to Unlock Shooter’s iPhone

Accepted submission by martyb at 2020-01-14 15:35:45
Digital Liberty
Apple Denies FBI Request to Unlock Shooter’s iPhone []:

Apple once again is drawing the line at breaking into a password-protected iPhone for a criminal investigation, refusing a request [] by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to help unlock the iPhones of a shooter responsible for an attack in Florida.

The company late Monday said it won’t help the FBI crack two iPhones belonging to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi-born Air Force cadet and suspect in a shooting that killed three people in December at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

The decision is reminiscent of a scenario [] that happened during the investigation of a 2015 California shooting, and could pit federal law enforcement against Apple in court once again to argue over data privacy in the case of criminal investigations.

While Apple said it’s helping in the FBI’s investigation of the Pensacola shooting—refuting criticism to the contrary—the company said it won’t help the FBI unlock two phones the agency said belonged to Alshamrani.

“We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation,” the company said in a statement emailed to Threatpost. “Our responses to their many requests since the attack have been timely, thorough and are ongoing.”

[...]The FBI sent a letter to Apple’s general counsel last week asking the company to help the agency crack the iPhones, as their attempts until that point to guess the “relevant passcodes” had been unsuccessful, according to the letter [], which was obtained by NBC News.


Attorney General William Barr followed up that request with a declaration Monday [] that the shooting was an act of terrorism and reiterated law enforcement’s plea to Apple to unlock Alshamrani’s phones—an iPhone 7 and iPhone 5. Alshamrani, who is believed to have acted alone, was killed during a shootout with security officers at the base.

“So far Apple has not given us any substantive assistance,” Barr said in a press conference Monday. “This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that investigators be able to get access to digital evidence once they have obtained a court order based on probable cause. We call on Apple and other technology companies to help us find a solution so that we can better protect the lives of Americans and prevent future attacks.”

The scenario is similar to one that occurred when the FBI asked Apple to unlock the phone of Syed Farook, one of two men who carried out a shooting attack on a city meeting in San Bernardino, Calif. It also sets up a scenario in which a court could be the deciding factor if Apple must unlock the phones or not.

Federal Court Rules That the FBI Does Not Have to Disclose Name of iPhone Hacking Vendor []
FBI Can't Say How It Hacked IPhone 5C []
FBI Says it Might be Able to Hack IPhone Without Apple's Help []
New York Judge Sides with Apple Rather than FBI in Dispute over a Locked iPhone []
Seems Like Everyone has an Opinion About Apple vs. the FBI []
Mom Whose Son Died in San Bernardino Massacre Backs Apple []
Trump: Boycott Apple Unless They Unlock Shooter's Phone []
Apple Ordered by Judge to Help Decrypt San Bernadino Shooter's phone []

Original Submission