U.S. Attorney General Asks Apple to Unlock iPhones Used by Florida Mass Shooter
United States Attorney General William Barr today asked Apple to unlock the iPhones used in mass shooting last month at a naval air station in Pensacola, Florida, reports The New York Times.
The request comes as the shooting has been declared an act of terrorism, and it follows a report last week that the FBI sent a letter to Apple asking for help accessing two iPhones used by shooter Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.
“This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that the public be able to get access to digital evidence,” Mr. Barr said, calling on Apple and other technology companies to find a solution and complaining that Apple has provided no “substantive assistance.”
Apple has already provided law enforcement officials with information from Alshamrani’s iCloud account, but the two iPhones are passcode protected (one is also damaged from gunfire) and Apple has in he past taken a strong position against providing access to locked iPhones.
Apple last week said that it had already provided all of the information 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.
Justice department officials claim to need access to the iPhones to see messages from encrypted apps like Signal or WhatsApp to find out if Alshamrani discussed his plans or had help.
In 2016, Apple had a major showdown with the U.S. government after being ordered by a federal judge to unlock the iPhone owned by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Apple fought hard against the order asking for backdoor access into iPhones and said that it would create “new and dangerous weaknesses” and that weakening security “makes no sense.”
Apple ultimately won the dispute and the government found an alternate way to access the iPhone in question.
Apple is now facing a similar battle as the company’s statement last week suggests it has no plans to unlock the two iPhones and the attorney general has said that he is prepared for a fight.
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