Apple is back at it with the FBI again, this time with the FBI demanding that the company breach its own user privacy laws by unlocking two iPhones of a now deceased person suspected to have killed three victims in Florida in a shooting attack.
The phone in question belongs to one Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, an aviation student from Saudi Arabia resident in the United States who is alleged to have been responsible for the deaths of 3 people in a Naval Air Station in Pensacola. He himself was shot down by Police during the attack.
The FBI requested information from Apple and asked that they unlock the phones belonging to the deceased in order to aid their investigations which Apple was reluctant to provide. In the past when law enforcement has made such demands on the Apple company, it has been met with some justifiable reluctance, in part due to the violation of privacy rights Apple will be aiding these parties to commit if their demands are met and also because it sets a bad precedent and provides leeway for criminals to take advantage against “Warrant-proof Encryption”.
There have been appeals to establish concrete legislation to force companies to release information that might aid investigations despite the fact that this defeats the structure of user privacy
In one of such cases, the FBI eventually claimed to have used some “new forensic techniques” and a third party to gain entry into a phone which they believed contained evidence of child abuse.
US AttorneyJoseph Brown shared in a statement that he believed that phone and computer companies like Apple and the like must be subjected to legislature that makes it a little easier for law enforcement to have information when they need it to aid its investigations.
He said government must,
enact legislation to ensure lawful access for law enforcement, consistent with the traditional protections of privacy, to digital evidence of crime.
Evidence stored in a phone or on a laptop should not be protected more than evidence in a person’s home, which has always been considered the most private of places. By allowing dangerous criminals to cloak their communication behind an impenetrable digital shield, the deployment of warrant-proof technologies is already imposing a great cost on society.
With reference to other cases though, Apple remains adamant to the FBI’s request to create a backdoor in their system for law enforcement to access its database and retrieve information they believe is imperative in their investigative processes. In light of this, it appears they have been using other third party tools in an attempt to crack open the passcode on the device, which is yet to yield any positive results.
In the meantime, information reported by Forbes states that investigators are currently attempting to guess the passcodes. A letter released by the FBI reads, “Investigators are actively engaging in efforts to ‘guess’ the relevant passcodes but so far have been unsuccessful.”
Apple however have shared their side of the story, stating,
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 the data in our possession and we will continue to support them with the data we have available.