Texas authorities serve Apple a warrant for mass shooter’s iPhone

Authorities are persisting in their efforts to get access to the Texas mass shooter’s iPhone despite having missed an early opportunity. The San Antonio Express-News has learned that Texas Rangers served Apple warrants for data on both the perpetrator’s iPhone SE and a basic LG cellphone. In the case of the iPhone, the state law enforcement unit wants access to both local and iCloud info (such as calls, messages and photos) produced since January 1st, 2016.

It’s not known whether officials have obtained information since the warrants were obtained on November 9th. The company declined to comment to the Express-News citing a policy against speaking about law enforcement matters. In a previous statement, though, Apple said it had offered assistance to the FBI “immediately” after a November 7th press conference on the mass shooting, and vowed to “expedite” its response. The FBI didn’t reach out for help.

The Rangers’ warrant puts Apple in a difficult position. Although at least some iCloud data is accessible with a warrant, the iPhone itself is another issue. Police missed their opportunity to use the shooter’s fingerprint to unlock the phone without a passcode, and the nature of iOS’ encryption makes it very difficult for Apple and anyone else to access locked-down data. In the case of the San Bernardino attack, the FBI paid security experts at Cellebrite to get to a shooter’s files. Apple may once again be faced with a situation where it can’t fully comply with data requests.

Via: AppleInsider, TechCrunch

Source: My San Antonio

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Apple offered to help FBI unlock Texas shooter’s phone

FBI special agent Christopher Combs complained how the agency couldn’t get into the Texas shooter’s phone during a press conference. Turns out all they had to do was ask Apple for help. In a statement the tech titan has released to the media, it said it “immediately reached out to the FBI after learning from their press conference on Tuesday that investigators were trying to access a mobile phone.” Cupertino offered its assistance and even promised to “expedite [its] response to any legal process.” It added that it “work[s] with law enforcement every day” and “offer[s] training to thousands of agents so they understand [its] devices and how they can quickly request information from Apple.”

The company told Business Insider that the FBI has yet to ask for help accessing the phone. That pretty much confirms Reuters’ report that officials missed the 48-hour window that would have allowed them to unlock the device simply by using the shooter’s fingerprint. If the gunman had fingerprint access enabled, Apple could’ve told authorities that they had 48 hours to use his prints to unlock the phone before the feature ceased to function.

Now that it’s past 48 hours, the agency has to find a legal means to get to the phone’s contents. Officials will now have to serve Apple with a court order to be able to get their hands on his iCloud data. It’s unclear if the FBI is already securing a court order, but it might have decided not to work with Apple after having a tough time convincing the company to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. Apple refused to open the device for the agency even after the FBI took the company to court. In the end, the feds paid big money for a third-party company’s tool that was able to unlock the device.

Via: CNET, Business Insider, MacRumors

Source: John Paczkowski‏ (Twitter)

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