FBI Reportedly Asks Apple to Help Unlock Passcode-Protected iPhones Used by Mass Shooter in Florida

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In a letter sent late Monday to Apple's general counsel Katherine Adams, the FBI has asked Apple to help unlock two iPhones that investigators believe were owned by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who carried out a mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Florida last month, according to NBC News.


The report claims the iPhones are passcode protected, and one of them appears to be damaged by gunfire. In a statement to NBC News, Apple said it has already provided all of the data in its possession to the FBI:
We have the greatest respect for law enforcement and have always worked cooperatively to help in their investigations. When the FBI requested information from us relating to this case a month ago, we gave them all of the data in our possession and we will continue to support them with the data we have available.
Apple faced a similar situation in 2016, when a U.S. federal judge ordered the company to help the FBI unlock an iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino, California. Apple opposed the order, noting that it would set a "dangerous precedent" with security risks.

Apple's dispute with the FBI ended in just weeks after the U.S. government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone and withdrew the lawsuit.

Based on its statement, it appears that Apple will continue to take a hard line on refusing to unlock iPhones for the FBI.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News 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.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Israeli firm Cellebrite assisted the FBI with unlocking the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, but Cellebrite has previously denied this claim.

Article Link: FBI Reportedly Asks Apple to Help Unlock Passcode-Protected iPhones Used by Mass Shooter in Florida
 
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Saturnine

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2005
967
745
Manchester, UK
In the past I haven’t been a fan of Apple helping law enforcement to access ‘suspects’ devices but this is a bit different. These devices appear to have belonged somebody known to have committed a serious crime and Apple probably should assist.

With that said, I would hope that the security on my device is such that it is inaccessible to anybody other than myself, regardless of their ability.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,594
3,218
The problem is not Apple refusing to help or being willing to help, the problem is that iPhones are intentionally designed so that Apple cannot unlock them.

I remember in the 2016 case, the FBI played around with the phone they had to get access to the iCloud data and managed to make that inaccessible, so Apple could and probably would help them to get what they can get. Where Apple will be absolutely firm is to not change their design to be able to unlock phones.

With that said, I would hope that the security on my device is such that it is inaccessible to anybody other than myself, regardless of their ability.
Inaccessible to anybody other than yourself, and that obviously includes Apple.
 

Juan007

macrumors 6502a
Jun 14, 2010
734
732
The corrupt (and impeached) Trump administration will use this case as a Trojan Horse to demand that Apple ship spyware on their phones. They already caught the guy, they know everything about him, does the FBI really need to know that he watched cat videos or played angry birds? Fortunately Tim Cook and Apple have seen this trick a million times before and have the backbone to stand up for their users. It's not about protecting criminals, it's about protecting ordinary Apple users from criminals such as the president.
 

SVTmaniac

macrumors 6502
Jan 30, 2013
351
340
The corrupt (and impeached) Trump administration will use this case as a Trojan Horse to demand that Apple ship spyware on their phones. They already caught the guy, they know everything about him, does the FBI really need to know that he watched cat videos or played angry birds? Fortunately Tim Cook and Apple have seen this trick a million times before and have the backbone to stand up for their users. It's not about protecting criminals, it's about protecting ordinary Apple users from criminals such as the president.

He's still your president.
- - Post merged: - -

It's disturbing that "a mass shooting" alteady seems like a very common occurence in the US - you've come far in the 20 years after Columbine. Maybe unlocked phones are not the solution to this problem...
They spelled Act of Terrorism wrong. Religion kills more people on this planet than anything else. Bunch of idiots idolizing imaginary friends to the point they need to kill each other to prove that imaginary friend exists.
 

Joe The Dragon

macrumors 6502a
Jul 26, 2006
696
165
The problem is not Apple refusing to help or being willing to help, the problem is that iPhones are intentionally designed so that Apple cannot unlock them.

I remember in the 2016 case, the FBI played around with the phone they had to get access to the iCloud data and managed to make that inaccessible, so Apple could and probably would help them to get what they can get. Where Apple will be absolutely firm is to not change their design to be able to unlock phones.


Inaccessible to anybody other than yourself, and that obviously includes Apple.
ok if say china asked for help will they help them???
 

itsmilo

macrumors 68030
Sep 15, 2016
2,712
5,526
Europe
When it comes to acts of terrorism and murder, Apple needs to comply in these situations. Period.
what’s the definition of „terrorism“ exactly? Would someone writing something against the Iran regime be a „terrorist“? Some would say yes. The problem is that any government can tweak and define those words as they please
 

FaustsHausUK

macrumors 6502
Mar 11, 2010
254
286
Chicago, IL
When it comes to acts of terrorism and murder, Apple needs to comply in these situations. Period.
That hardline view is very noble, but to facilitate it, Apple has to make their devices less secure. Making devices less secure doesn't only aid the FBI and "good" actors; _anyone_ can exploit such loopholes. Then the story will be "iPhones are easy to hack," and nobody will trust Apple. Worse, nobody will have access to private communications.

Even ignoring that, do you really trust the government and law enforcement with such access? This country has a lousy track record of wrongful convictions, false arrests and badgering. So you've reduced your own privacy and made it easier for law enforcement to dig up dirt, but I can guarantee you the impact on terrorists and criminals will be nill. They always find a way.
 

nt5672

macrumors 68000
Jun 30, 2007
1,946
4,171
This is just another big fishing expedition.

What do the FBI expect to find? That he traded emails, messages, phone calls with other terriorists. Maybe, but what difference does that make?

Talking with someone who committed a crime is not a crime. Usually, these FBI types already have the names of the people involved. They don't like to admit it, but they know who they are. And until these other people commit a crime, which talking on the phone or trading emails/messages is not, there is nothing the FBI can do.

Sure there is a small, make that really small chance, that the other person might admit to criminal activity, but with so many cop shows on TV they would have to be real dumb. In addition, remember that in most cases even a signed confession is not going to get someone convicted without other evidence.

So yeah, I am not in favor of a big fishing expedition, especially when the FBI has proven itself corrupt at the highest levels, both today and 50 years ago with Mr. Hoover.

This is from Wikipedia;
Later in life and after his death, Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive abuses of power began to surface. He was found to have exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI,[2] and to have used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders,[3] and to collect evidence using illegal methods.[4] Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten others, including sitting presidents of the United States.[5]
Do you really want that agency to have total access? It may already be too late.
 

lkrupp

macrumors 6502a
Jul 24, 2004
948
1,306
So why is the FBI asking for Apple’s help? Is all the hype over the Israeli company, Cellebrite, just chest thumping baloney? Didn’t the FBI hire Cellebrite to crack open the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone a few years ago. Security “experts” say there are a number of iOS exploits that an state actor could use. Isn’t the FBI a state actor? This request sounds fishy to me, another ploy to gain a backdoor to iOS. Or is all this trolling about how easy it is to get into an iPhone just bullsh!t?
 

BarrettF77

macrumors 6502a
May 24, 2015
502
546
The FBI has the ability to unlock these already. If you look into the Snowden files which are old by today's standards they were far ahead of the game. It's a save face tactic.

And to using this to get political against the President. He's still the POTUS, the games our Congress is playing are half baked truths, and you should be more upset at our tax dollars being wasted for what is really not that serious. And if any issue should arise, how about your ex Vice President abusing his office powers. Start there.... Moving on, nothing to see here.
 

miniroll32

macrumors 65816
Mar 28, 2010
1,202
1,866
Apple could very easily produce a one-time, time limited version of iOS for cases like these; but they won’t because of the precedent.

Tim Cook attempted to divert the last case by rewording the everything to ‘backdoor’, suggesting this software was “like a cancer” - Even though the interviews reaffirmed they could make one-time software.
 
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FaustsHausUK

macrumors 6502
Mar 11, 2010
254
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Chicago, IL
Apple could very easily produce a one-time, time limited version of iOS for cases like these; but they won’t because of the precedent.

Tim Cook attempted to divert the last case by rewording the everything to ‘backdoor’, suggesting this software was “like a cancer” - Even though the interviews reaffirmed they could make one-time software.
I think their concern is that setting a precedent like that would make "one-time" become significantly more common than that.