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Tag: iPhone

Apple Served Search Warrant for iPhone of Church Shooter, But Case Unlikely to Go Federal

Church shooter Devin Kelley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Texas law enforcement has served Apple with a search warrant for data stored on the blood-splattered iPhone used by the gunman in the Texas church shooting that killed 26 people earlier this month.

But the Washington Post reports it’s unlikely the FBI will take the case to federal court, like it did over the locked phone of a terrorist in San Bernardino, because authorities believe Devin Patrick Kelly acted alone and was not tied to terrorists. 

Nevertheless, Texas Rangers served a search warrant to obtain digital photos, messages, documents and other types of data from Kelly’s phone, a second mobile device found near his body and the gunman’s iCloud account, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

It’s unclear whether Apple will comply with the warrant or fight it like the company had in the San Bernardino case.

At the point, the feds are unlikely to make it a federal case.

“We do have a role in supporting the locals, but it’s not in FBI’s wheelhouse to run this case,‘‘ said one law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing. “It’s more of a local investigation at this point.”

FBI Missed Critical 48-Hour Window to Open Church Shooter’s iPhone

IPhone 6By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI failed to ask Apple to help unlock the iPhone of the Texas church shooter in the two days following the massacre that left 26 people dead.

Apple, which has refused to offer help unlocking encrypted phones in the past, said it offered to assist the FBI but agents never reached out, Business Insider reports

“Our team immediately reached out to the FBI after learning from their press conference Tuesday that investigators were trying to access a mobile phone,” Apple said in a statement. “We offered assistance and said we would expedite our response to any legal process they send us.”

The phone, instead, was sent to a lab for analysis.

As a result, the FBI lost 48 hours without locking the device by using the finger prints of the shooter, Devin Kelley, if the phone was fingerprint-access enabled.

That’s significant because iPhones locked with a fingerprint for 48 hours or more require the user’s passcode.

The FBI declined to comment.

FBI Off the Hook on Releasing Name of Vendor Who Unlocked iPhone in San Bernardino Case

IPhone 6

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge has decided that 100 percent transparency isn’t necessary when it comes to the FBI and the San Bernardino shooting.

The FBI does not have to reveal the identity of a vendor that helped it unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters in the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack, or the price it paid for the vendor’s services, a federal judge ruled, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In a summary judgment issued Saturday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in the District of Columbia wrote that releasing the vendor’s name could be reasonably expect  “to cause harm to national security interests by limiting the FBI’s present and future ability to gain access to suspected terrorists’ phones.”

She also noted that the disclosure of the vendor’s identity would “risk disclosure of a law enforcement technique and create a reasonably expected risk of circumvention of the law.”

Judge: Details on How FBI Hacked into IPhone Are Public Information

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI does not have to publicly reveal how it hacked into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorists in an attack that killed 14 people, a federal judge has ruled.

On Saturday, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled against three media outlets that sued the FBI to reveal the mystery behind the hacking, Politico reports. 

Chutkan also ruled that the FBI does not have to reveal the cost or the company it hired to breaking into the phone.

At a news conference last year, then-FBI Director James Comey suggested that the cost to hire the company would exceed his salary for the remainder of his term – about $1.4 million.

FBI Wants to Hack into Another Encrypted iPhone Belonging to a Dead Man

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI may be headed for another legal showdown with Apple.

Eight months after the FBI asked a court to order Apple to help hack into the encrypted iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook, the bureau has obtained the iPhone of the man who stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall, Wired reports. 

Tahir Adan’s phone is locked with a passcode, and FBI agents are still trying to access the contents.

“Dahir Adan’s iPhone is locked,” FBI special agent Rich Thorton told reporters, “We are in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain.”

Thornton didn’t reveal the model of iPhone or its operating system.

Apple declined to help the FBI break into Farook’s phone, prompting the bureau to hire an outside entity to access the phone.

Other Stories of Interest

New Special Agent in Charge of San Fransisco Division Played Key Role in iPhone Hack

Apple-iphoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just two months before Jack Bennett became special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco division in May, the 52-year-old played a key role in accessing the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.

Bennet was working at the FBI’s computer investigation lab in Quantico, Va., when the bureau received help from an outside company to hack into the iPhone, the Associated Press reports. 

“There wasn’t high fives, and there weren’t people singing down the hallways,” he recalled. “It was very much business. ‘OK, let’s move forward to the next steps. Let’s get on the phone. What do we need to do to purchase the tool?'”

Bennett, who has nearly 30 years of experience in law enforcement, has battled drug smuggling operations for the DEA before tackling child sex crimes and animal rights extremists for the FBI.

“The U.S. government sometimes loses sight of what is important to corporations … and privacy is incredibly important,” Bennett said during a recent interview at his office.

Orange County Register: Why FBI Should Disclose How iPhone Was Hacked

Apple-iphoneBy Editorial Board
Orange County Register

After the San Bernardino attack in December that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others, the FBI hired a private hacker to unlock the iPhone of one of the two dead terrorists. Perhaps the FBI learned some of Syed Rizwan Farook’s evil secrets. But it also created unsettling secrets of its own.

The mysteries left over from the episode start with these: Who is the unnamed private party the FBI paid to break the smartphone’s security device? How much taxpayer money did the agency pay?

News organizations that have been stiff-armed by the FBI in their Freedom of Information Act request now are suing the bureau for answers.

We hope they succeed. The public should be able to know more about how the FBI cracked the privacy safeguards on the terrorist’s Apple phone. This is about more than one investigation and one wrongdoer’s phone – it’s about the threat that the government’s ability to break into electronic devices could pose to anybody’s online privacy and safety, especially if the tools fell into the wrong hands.

As stated in the lawsuit – filed last week by the Associated Press, the Gannett media company and the Vice Media digital and broadcasting company – “Understanding the amount that the FBI deemed appropriate to spend on the tool, as well as the identity and reputation of the vendor it did businesses with, is essential for the public to provide effective oversight of government functions and help guard against potential improprieties.”

To read more click here. 

Judge Forces Woman to Unlock iPhone with Fingerprints, But It Doesn’t Work

Apple-iphoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When the FBI couldn’t open an iPhone in Los Angeles, a judge made the controversial decision to let the bureau force a woman to unlock the phone with her fingerprints.

But it didn’t work, CNN reports. 

The case involves Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan, the girlfriend of an accused gangster. 

“They forced her to use all 10 fingers to unlock the phone. But it didn’t unlock the phone,” said George G. Mgdesyan, the attorney who represented the couple.

Turns out, the Touch ID feature expires if it’s not used within 48 hours.

When that didn’t work, the FBI tried another route.

“They asked for a password. She said, ‘It’s not my phone,'” Mgdesyan explained.