Apple Complied With First iPhone Unlock Court Order in 2008, Says Report

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacRumors, Apr 8, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    A review of Apple's track record of handling government data requests claims that the company received and complied with its first court order to unlock an iPhone in 2008.

    According to a Wall Street Journal piece published yesterday, the first court order came from investigators involved in the prosecution of child sex offenders Amanda and Christopher Jansen, a married couple from Watertown, New York.


    In that case, which came to light one year after the debut of the original iPhone, Apple not only complied, but also helped prosecutors draft the court order requiring it to do so. The All Writs Act was invoked, and a signature from a magistrate judge then allowed the company to take the device in question back to its Cupertino headquarters and bypass its passcode in the presence of a New York State Police investigator, according to the report.

    The All Writs Act is a federal law that judges used to use to conscript telephone companies into helping federal agents install and operate call-tracking devices. At the time, said "people familiar with the matter", it wasn't considered a big step worth noting, because government authorities had long used the All Writs Act to get companies to help them with various devices and technical issues.

    In total, Apple helped the U.S. government access over 70 devices, before changing its stance after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed details of the government's surveillance program in 2013.

    The revelations led many technology companies to begin tightening security in their products and expanding encryption efforts, and in 2014, Apple introduced iOS 8, which used a new form of encryption that prevented any government agent, or Apple itself, from accessing data stored on the smartphone.

    Prior to yesterday's report, it was thought that the government's first cause for concern with Apple's security measures began in 2010 when the company launched the encrypted video messaging service FaceTime, followed by iMessage in 2011.

    Following the Snowden revelations, there was apparent division in the government, and the FBI became frustrated that the administration was reluctant to support a law that would help investigators gain access to iPhones and other devices.

    That sequence of events and the subsequent San Bernardino shooting ultimately led the government to take the issue public and seek a court order for Apple to unlock Syed Farook's iPhone, resulting in Apple CEO Tim Cook's non-compliance letter which called use of the All Writs Act a "dangerous precedent".

    Apple's dispute with the FBI ended on March 28, 2016 after the government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone and dropped the lawsuit. It is widely believed, though not confirmed, that the help of Israeli mobile forensics firm Cellebrite led the FBI to withdraw the case.

    On Thursday, FBI director James Comey said a "new tool" from a private party allowed it to access Farook's iPhone, but that the method can't be used on iPhone 5s or newer devices.

    Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

    Article Link: Apple Complied With First iPhone Unlock Court Order in 2008, Says Report
  2. SethBoy macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2007
    This would not have happened if Steve Jobs…

    Oh right.
  3. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    Interesting read. Good to see Apple change thier stance .
  4. drumcat macrumors 6502a


    Feb 28, 2008
    Otautahi, Aotearoa
    If anyone wasn't sure how important the Snowden Leak was, this should crystallise it.
  5. Daku93 macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2010
    Keep in mind that the iPhone was not encrypted back in the day. So bypassing the passcode was just disabling it. Disabling it on a encrypted phone would not be enough, as the passcode is part of the encryption key. This time the FBI basically asked apple to help implementing a way allowing the passcode (and thus the encryption key) to be cracked and not just disabled.
  6. 0007776 Suspended


    Jul 11, 2006
    This is about the first time that's actually an appropriate response. Steve did go along a lot more than Tim has. That may have just been because the technology of the time made it easier, but he definitely didn't have a problem with it.
  7. Crosscreek, Apr 8, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016

    Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013
    I thought Apple said they have never unlocked a iPhone?

    Apples statement:

    Has Apple unlocked iPhones for law enforcement in the past?


    We regularly receive law enforcement requests for information about our customers and their Apple devices. In fact, we have a dedicated team that responds to these requests 24/7. We also provide guidelines on our website for law enforcement agencies so they know exactly what we are able to access and what legal authority we need to see before we can help them.

    For devices running the iPhone operating systems prior to iOS 8, and under a lawful court order, we have extracted data from an iPhone.

    We’ve built progressively stronger protections into our products with each new software release, including passcode-based data encryption, because cyberattacks have only become more frequent and more sophisticated. As a result of these stronger protections which requires data encryption, we are no longer able to use the data extraction process on iPhones running iOS 8 or later.
  8. 0007776 Suspended


    Jul 11, 2006
    They never said that. Before iOS 7 or 8 they did keep the ability to open all phones, hackers also could get in. Then they started encrypting things which protected from hackers and the government and they could no longer access phones without the passcode.
  9. Kissaragi, Apr 8, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016

    Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Nov 16, 2006
    The world changed a lot since 2008, it's hardly newsworthy that stances on privacy have too
  10. Rocketman macrumors 603


    It looks like Amanda and Christopher Jansen, a married couple from Watertown, New York have the fodder from the current action to fight the use of the All Writs Act and have their convictions overturned due to illegal evidence gathering and seek information on other cases using the same methods so all those other defense attorneys can file for releasing their clients from prison too.

    Justice is blind. Watch out when you use illegal methods to obtain convictions.
  11. RichTF macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2007
    London, UK
    Also worth remembering that the FBI didn't just want Apple to "unlock" an iPhone in this recent case. They wanted Apple to build a whole new version of iOS that would make unlocking ANY iPhone easier.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 8, 2016 ---
    Yeah, that's an interesting contradiction. Although it could just be down to what is meant exactly by "unlocked". If Apple bypassed the PIN screen and extracted data directly, then that could indeed be said to not be unlocking the iPhone. And yet it's also reasonable to still consider it "unlocking" in a less technical context.
  12. Waxhead138 macrumors 6502

    May 18, 2012
    One huge difference from the original example to present day: Apple handled it in house for one, and two, it's different to handle a situation in house on a case by case basis than it is to manufacture a tool for phone breaking and hand it out to an entity that.... frankly simply isn't capable of keeping it secure in the long run.
  13. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009
    Let's see it change its stance on other issues before praising them... it still looks the other way with child labor and other human rights abuses, which are worse than anything privacy-related.
  14. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    It's stand on privacy is sales related, you sell more phones if you make the public believe you have the most secure handset.
  15. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Rocketman, it is entirely legal for the police to read encrypted data if they have a search warrant to do so. The whole discussion in this case was about whether Apple had to help them doing it or not, and under the circumstances as far as I know them Apple shouldn't. That doesn't mean that it's not perfectly fine for the police to unlock a phone. Just not with Apple's help. Even if they used illegal means to force Apple to unlock the phone, that would only mean that Apple could complain, not the phone owner.

    If I remember right, you complain about "child labor and other human right abuses" all the time, and I've never seen you give any evidence. So come on, where's the evidence? The only "evidence" for child labor was a lying actor who had made up a story.
  16. 69Mustang, Apr 8, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016

    69Mustang macrumors 604


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    Serving? You sure about that?
    How do you know you're addressing a US Marine?

    IoT, Internet of Things. IoA, Internet of Assumptions. Regardless of the content of the quote, a US Marine avatar and marine in a screen name does not make a soldier. This is the internet. Let's not have patriotism cloud our logic centers.
    I can set up a burner account as Sgt. Hartman*, use some chevrons as an avatar, and go to town saying anything.

    Even if the person is a marine, military service shouldn't lend any gravitas to that particular quote. It's embarrassing.

    * bonus points for those who know who Sgt. Hartman is:mad:
  17. Rocketman macrumors 603


    If they invoked the All Writs Act and the case is not secret as the Amanda case is not, then one can go back and use all the arguments Apple made and all the Amicus made and overturn the evicenciary hearing in the case (a ripe case), and get that precedent Apple was seeking in this case in San Bernardino.

    The only alternative would be for plaintiffs to simply release the prisoners without a trial at all, which might shock everyone they are willing to do, to preserve this avenue of inquiry to not be reviewed on dozens of cases going back.

    Justice is blind.
  18. jonnysods macrumors 603


    Sep 20, 2006
    There & Back Again
    So to all of us who asked "what would Steve do" we have our answer 70 times over.
  19. BeefCake 15 macrumors 65816

    BeefCake 15

    May 15, 2015
    near Boston, MA
    Not sure exactly why a whole bunch of conversations were deleted off this thread concerning the "pedophile supporting" argument on this whole phone unlocking case. It was a legitimate statement being made over and over by people and it was getting good responses to debunk this myth and inform the masses that are reading this thread.

  20. GFLPraxis macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Read the middle paragraph.

    They've unlocked decrypted phones only- didn't require breaking their security.
  21. Bigsk8r macrumors 6502


    Nov 28, 2011
    Austin, Texas

    Not surprised. I have had one less than ethical admin delete my comments before and then engage in a war of words over what's appropriate, even though I never use off color language, or stoop to some of the levels I see here every day.

    In fact... I bet this gets pulled because it's "off topic"
  22. 0007776 Suspended


    Jul 11, 2006
    I know I reported one where a poster was directly calling me a pedophile supporter, and I felt that that crossed the line to a personal attack. I'm not sure why the rest of the discussion went away.
  23. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Rocketman, I'll try to explain this again: If the police has a search warrant against citizen X, then they have the right to search and to use everything they find as evidence against X, as long as it is covered by the search warrant. If the police has a search warrant saying that they can search X's phone, then they have the right to do so and use it as evidence.

    Now if the police asks Apple for help in that search, and Apple is, perhaps illegally, forced to help, then by all means Apple can complain about it, sue the FBI, whatever. But that doesn't help X: Even if Apple's rights were violated, X's rights were not. If the police uses the help of a hacker, that's still legal. Hacking is a crime _if you are not entitled to access the computer you are hacking into_. Since the hacker has the permission of the FBI to hack into the suspects phone, and the FBI has a search warrant, the hacking is legal.

    Imagine my neighbour is suspected of committing some crime, and the police have a warrant to search his house. Since they cannot manage to open his front door, they break through my front door, break the back door to get into my garden, and break my garden fence to get into his house from the back. My rights are violated. I can sue the police for damages. However, none of these things have violated my neighbour's rights, so the search warrant against him is completely valid, and everything they found in his house after trashing my place can be used as evidence against him.
  24. You are the One macrumors 6502a

    You are the One

    Dec 25, 2014
    In the present
    Thanks FBI, you help making consumer devices more secure.
  25. Rocketman macrumors 603


    If evidence is illegally obtained, for whatever reason, then the particular evidence can be excluded from trial, no matter how valid or invalid the original warrant. You do not need to explain it to me again. Ask any lawyer yourself.

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28 April 8, 2016