Science

Unlocking Texas Gunman's Phone Revives Apple-FBI Discord

Unlocking Texas Gunman's Phone Revives Apple-FBI Discord

Interestingly, while Apple appears to be taking the moral high-ground, Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Christopher Combs in a separate statement appeared to cast blame on the company in the wake of Sunday's attack, indicating, without mentioning Apple by name, that tech-industry mandated encryption of user data is making it increasingly hard for law enforcement to access information on electronic devices owned by nefarious actors, like Kelley.

Combs wouldn't say what kind of phone the gunman had, but The Washington Post reported, citing sources familiar with the matter, that the device was an iPhone.

"It highlights an issue that you've all heard about before, with the advance of the technology and the phones and the encryptions; law enforcement, whether that's at the state, local or federal level, is increasingly not able to get into these phones", said Combs. He went on to say that no details about the phone would be revealed in case that information proved useful to other criminals. The company said its offer was made after the company learned of FBI's failed efforts to unlock the iPhone during the press conference. That's because experts at the FBI's lab in Quantico, Va., are trying to determine if there are other methods, such as cloud storage or a linked laptop, that would provide access to the phone's data, these people said. That echoed the dilemma that unfolded almost two years earlier when investigators recovered a password-protected and purportedly uncrackable Apple iPhone belonging to one of the terrorists responsible for the December 2015 rampage in San Bernardino, California. "Not long after, the feds told Apple it was an iPhone, but didn't name the model, nor did they accept the company's offer".

'We offered assistance and said we would expedite our response to any legal process they send us'. It is unclear what iPhone model Kelley had and whether he had Touch ID enabled.

According to the report, iPhones that require a fingerprint to be unlocked request the password after 48 hours. If an iPhone user backs up an iPhone using iCloud, the online data can contain texts, photographs and other information from the phone. FBI investigators did not reach out to Apple and instead asked a county technician to reset the shooter's Apple iCloud password.

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If there is little reason to think the gunman had accomplices, the Justice Department may have a less compelling argument to try to take Apple to court to force the company to open the phone.

While FBI Director Christopher A. Wray has warned that there are almost 7,000 phones that can not be opened and said that such technologies are making it harder to fight terrorism and crime, Congress has shown little interest in tackling the issue.

On the other hand, patrons of privacy argue that such encryption keeps hackers and thieves at bay, and the government should look for some other way to access the information.

We work with law enforcement every day.


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