Apple Wanted to Assist the FBI in Accessing Texas Shooter’s iPhone
Apple had actually offered to aid the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with regards to accessing an iPhone unit used by Texas church shooter Devin Patrick Kelley. The tech giant had apparently heard that the agency was having difficulties unlocking the device. During the recent weekend, Kelley had opened fire inside a Texas church, killing 26 people and injuring 20 others before taking his own life.
According to a statement released just this week, Apple says that it had reached out to the FBI immediately after hearing about the press conference held by the agency, specifically about the part wherein the feds were having trouble gaining access to the encrypted handset. The iPhone maker even went as far as offering to expedite any legal process that was sent by the FBI. But as reported by the Business Insider, the investigators have yet to ask Apple for help in unlocking the device under investigation.
One can say that Apple and the FBI have a sort of complicated relationship. After the San Bernardino terror attacks that happened in December 2015, the United States Department of Justice had a court order the phone maker to change its software so that a certain iPhone 5C unit owned by the terrorist could be accessed. At that time, Apple had refused to change its software, to the FBI’s disappointment. The Department of Justice eventually acquired the services of a third party in order to get assistance in gaining access to the said iPhone unit.
In its statement, Apple claims that it has worked with law enforcement agencies even on a daily basis. The company even said that it is offering training to agents on Apple devices, and showed them how they can request data from Apple quickly. Even though the tech giant will not directly provide law enforcement agencies with the specific tools to gain access to the iPhone, it did promise that it will supply the iCloud data if requested by way of a court order.
Had the FBI responded sooner to Apple’s offer, it would have gotten some proper guidance that could have helped in preserving access to the data saved in the iPhone used by Kelley. The fingerprint reader on iPhone devices generally will not function if the owner of the unit has not used it in the past 48 hours. This means that in the two days after the shooting, investigators may have been able to make use of the shooter’s actual finger (or a copy of his fingerprint) in unlocking the device.