FBI’s iPhone Issues: Apple Says It Offered to Help the Bureau on Texas Shooter’s iPhone But Was Ignored
Earlier this week, special agent Christopher Combs, who is investigating the Texas church shooting, had said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is unable to access the Texas shooting terrorist's phone. "Unfortunately, at this point in time, we are unable to get into that phone," Combs had said in a press conference on Tuesday. He added that the phone has been shipped to the FBI headquarters in Quantico for analysis.
Combs had gone on a rant about companies not helping the Bureau adding that he won't share the name of the phone, since he doesn't want to "tell every bad guy out there what phone to buy to harass our efforts to try to find justice here."
That had already given everyone a hint that the phone must be an iPhone since the Bureau is particularly salty with the Cupertino tech giant having lost an encryption battle over San Bernardino shootings.
"It highlights an issue that you’ve all heard about before, with the advance of the technology and the phones and the encryption, law enforcement, whether that’s at the state, local or federal level, is increasingly not able to get into these phones," Agent Combs.
Apple had offered the FBI its help with Texas shooter's phone
Last night, it was revealed by Reuters' sources that the Bureau had made a critical mistake of not getting Apple on board in the first 48 hours, since the company can only unlock a fingerprint-protected iPhone in the first two days. Apparently, the Bureau never asked for help.
Following Combs' press statement, Apple has come forward saying that the iPhone maker has offered its help to the agency. The company said its offer was made after the company learned of the FBI's failed efforts to unlock the iPhone during the press conference. The phone belonged to Devin Kelly who killed 26 people and injured 20 more at a Texas church on Sunday.
The FBI continues to use every incident to highlight how encryption is making its job at catching criminals (or their accomplices) harder. However, this week's stories highlight how the Bureau fails to follow through first steps of the legal process, having both ignored the technicalities involved in the unlocking process and not even asking the relevant company for help.
"Our team immediately reached out to the FBI after learning from their press conference on Tuesday that investigators were trying to access a mobile phone," Apple said in a statement. "We offered assistance and said we would expedite any legal process they send us."
According to Forbes, the FBI has ignored this olive branch completely. "Apple was in touch with the FBI offering assistance via liaison officers," the report says. "Not long after, the feds told Apple it was an iPhone, but didn't name the model, nor did they accept the company's offer."
It remains unclear which iPhone model Kelly had used. While the company can't help the agents with unlocking the iPhone, Apple can help the Bureau with data available in iCloud that might assist the agency in its investigation
In its statement, Apple added that it works with law enforcement every day, offering "training to thousands of agents" on their devices and how to quickly request information from Apple. At the moment, it's curious why the Bureau wouldn't accept Apple's offer when it tried to make another spectacle out of a massacre that affected many lives.