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Apple Is Served A Search Warrant To Unlock Texas Church Gunman's iPhone ( 450

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Daily News: Authorities in Texas served Apple with a search warrant in order to gain access to the Sutherland Springs church shooter's cellphone files. Texas Ranger Kevin Wright obtained the warrant last week, according to San Antonio Express-News.

Investigators are hoping to gain access to gunman Devin Patrick Kelley's digital photos, messages, calls, videos, social media passwords, address book and data since January 2016. Authorities also want to know what files Kelley stored in his iCloud account.

Fast Company writes that "it's very likely that Apple will give the Rangers the same answer it gave the FBI in 2016 (in effect, hell no!)... That may be why, in the Texas case, the FBI and the Rangers didn't even bother calling Apple, but rather went straight to court."
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Apple Is Served A Search Warrant To Unlock Texas Church Gunman's iPhone

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 18, 2017 @07:46PM (#55578447)
    The FBI knows EXACTLY what its doing here. They refused Apple's voluntary help just so they could have a nice court order to set future precedent. They are hoping the moral outrage surrounding the Texas massacre will be sufficient to overpower the rational thinkers. They are just using this tragedy to further their own goals of weakening encryption for everyone.
    • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @08:02PM (#55578519) Journal

      They refused Apple's voluntary help just so they could have a nice court order to set future precedent.

      Exactly, precisely, THIS. It's a war of attrition versus the tech industry; all it'll take is ONCE for Apple to give in, or be forced legally, for any reason, and it'll be Game Over for encryption (except for The Rich and The Powerful, and the cops, of course; they can have all the non-compromised encryption they like, but use peasants/plebs/proles/poor pond scum only get shitty, useless 'backdoored' ersatz encryption, and FUCK US if we don't like it. Well I say FUCK THEM, it's all or nothing: either proper encryption for ALL, or NO encryption for ANYONE.

      • Since you're so het up about it, I take it that you've issued lawyer-backed instructions to delete your iCloud account and brick your iPhone the minute they comply with any of these legal moves.
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I do think this is a case of judicial oversight and sets a bad precedent. OTOH, I would hate see the feds waste our tax dollars paying a third party to crack the phone, or waste further time on side investigations.

      I suspect the military has all the information we need and perhaps is hiding it, the same way they hid his conviction. I don't think the phone is going to lead to anything more, at least not anything the feds will think is actionable.

    • how Apple volunteered to help? I thought from the last time this happened that they couldn't get data off an encrypted phone. Did they write a back door in and not tell anybody?
    • If Apple made their phones unbreakable all this legal hassle would end.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why do we have to do the digital thing. What happened to asking all the people who knew him when is was in grade school, junior high, and god forbide, when he was in the AirForce, and they even thought he was crazy.

    You do not need his phone data.

  • PIN: 0000 ... Nope.
    PIN: 0001 ... Nope.
    PIN: 0002 ... Nope.
    PIN: 0003 ... Nope.
    PIN: 0004 ... Nope.
    PIN: 0005 ... Nope. Now phone is hopelessly locked. Well, we tried.

    • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @09:12PM (#55578775) Journal

      PIN: 0000 ... Nope.
      PIN: 0001 ... Nope.
      PIN: 0002 ... Nope.
      PIN: 0003 ... Nope.
      PIN: 0004 ... Nope.
      PIN: 0005 ... Nope. Now phone is hopelessly locked. Well, we tried.

      [... restore memory contents from backup made before brute-force attempts began....]
      PIN 0006 ... Nope.
      PIN 0007 ... Nope.
      PIN 0008 ... Nope.
      [... restore from backups as needed ...]
      PIN 1234 ... Success!

      • iOS passcodes can be six digits now, not only four. It will take you longer than you think.

        • iOS passcodes can be six digits now, not only four. It will take you longer than you think.

          Not if you clone and parallelize the process. But you have a point. My Android phone allows even longer backup passwords. And I use my fingerprint, not a passcode.

          Nevertheless, a phone used by human is likely to be crackable using the resources available to police. Humans don't type RSA keys into their phones to unlock them. At best they use moderately short passwords that could be determined in a reasonable time with brute force.

          • by Altrag ( 195300 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @12:39AM (#55579361)

            And I use my fingerprint, not a passcode

            If you're worried about law enforcement then that's a bad idea since (at least in the US) there's no question about whether you can be compelled to open a biometric lock such as a fingerprint scanner.

            Passwords on the other hand are still hinging on the 5th amendment protections about incriminating yourself. I'm not sure how that one will play out. On one hand, what's the difference between a password and a fingerprint in terms of just unlocking your phone? They both do the same job so why wouldn't they fall under the same rules? But the other side is that there's no way for law enforcement to make you tell them your password (in the physical sense rather than the legal) which leads to the potential for forceful coercion or torture and other such tactics that the 5th was written to try and protect you from.

            We probably won't see a conclusion to that argument until such time as we have a live suspect who owns a phone that literally can't be unlocked at all, even with the full assistance of the manufacturer (which could happen regardless of what Apple does if the suspect has written their own encryption scheme, or uses a third party system from another country that isn't bound by US law even a US-based company that simply gave themselves no possibility of a back door at all, or so forth.)

            We might have already seen it if Apple hadn't left themselves the ability to force a firmware flash on a locked phone like they did, allowing for at least a potential back door even if its not a simple one.

        • My iphone uses an actual alphanumerical password. Apple requires a minimum of 6 digits, but doesn't restrict to that.

      • by CODiNE ( 27417 )

        This only works on really old iPhones. The count is kept in the Secure Enclave since the iPhone 6 I believe.

  • Maybe I Am Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @07:58PM (#55578507)
    A court may demand that materials be handed over but I don't think a court can order anyone to hunt down materials or create processes to aid in an investigation. Apple could simply comply by inviting the feds to search every document and recording in house. In effect that would be useless as it would require thousands of people to look into things about which they had little understanding at all. Worse yet, law enforcement is not investigating the crime at this point. The crime is solved. The killer is dead. what the police now want is to study why the crime occurred and if anyone else could also be held accountable. That amounts to a huge fishing expedition rather than an act of law enforcement. Worse yet, why the killer acted out has no meaning unless it leads us to a way to stop others from going on killing sprees. Understanding does not always lead to a solution.
    • 1-The last court case involving the FBI and Apple involved the FBI attempting to get a court order to force Apple to make a program to aid in unlocking the phone. Given that the judge didn't dismiss that attempt I assume the matter is either legal or open to interpretation. 2-If the killer was part of a terrorist cell then we want to know who the others are before they attack.
      • I am certain we want to know about future attacks but that does not imply that the law allows such a search. In the former Apple case Apple did not hand over the password. They claimed to be working on a method to discover it. An Israeli company provided a solution. I would say the law is not settled in this regard. I also wonder if the company in Israel acquired liabilities for cracking the phone's encryption scheme. There is a basic in law that what is legal for one is legal for all and what is illegal f
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 18, 2017 @08:11PM (#55578553)

    This move is pretty bold-faced dishonest and cynical in its attempt to sway public opinion to gain law enforcement more powers. There is nothing on the phone the rangers need. They know who did the shooting, they know what happened, unlocking the phone doesn't do anything for this case.

    What this situation does do is give law enforcement the chance to set precedent that Apple needs to unlock phones for the government, or find themselves on the side of terrorism in the court of public opinion.

    This is not about solving a case, this is about taking away privacy.

    • its not apple's problem so i hope they get with a hell no. warrens are not ment to drag 3rd party's into court. its not apple job to execute there search.
  • They will take it to the Supreme Court to get a ruling that "Cell Phone sellers have to hand over all information after a legal search order."

    Apple has no game winning move to make here.

    • by PoopJuggler ( 688445 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @08:28PM (#55578613)
      Except just saying, "Unpossible."
    • Here's all the information. I'm pretty sure some of your three letter agency buddies can crack the encryption within a millennium or two.

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        They already have all the information -- its on that phone they're trying to unlock. There are two questions here:

        1) Can Apple be legally obligated to unlock phones at the behest of the FBI? If so, what sort of precedent does that set? Will we start seeing mass fishing expeditions and having your phone unlocked any time you're caught jaywalking? How much burden are they going to be allowed to place on Apple just in terms of the amount of time it takes to process and respond to all these unlock requests?

  • by NynexNinja ( 379583 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @08:18PM (#55578571)
    iPhones use AES encryption for the phone, so naturally they should respond with the FIPS AES document []
  • You canâ€(TM)t have our data.
  • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock.poetic@com> on Saturday November 18, 2017 @08:34PM (#55578635)

    But without the phone evidence how will they know who the murderer is?
    What, they already know who the murderer is?
    Ah, so they need the phone evidence to get a conviction!
    Oh, the murderer is dead?
    Well then, what do they need the phone evidence for?
    What, indeed!
    Perhaps they want to psychoanalyze the killer based on his social media profile.
    Maybe they want to discover if he was part of a mass-murder club.
    Have these law enforcement people nothing better to do?
    How many paychecks are going into this project?

  • If a "key" is necessary to access something and that key does not exist within Apple's domain, can a court order Apple to produce something which does not exist?

    Rationally, I would say no - but I'm neither a lawyer nor a judge.

  • by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @09:05PM (#55578747) Journal
    The FBI wanted Apple to create a customized version of an OS which they didn't want to make. This warrant, however, sounds like it only asks for the iCloud files which reside on Apple servers. Serving them with a warrant to reveal information which they do have is an appropriate law enforcement action. It is quite different from what the FBI wanted -- create a product which didn't yet exist.
  • Apple doesn't ask how high.

  • Investigators want to forensically search the phones for evidence of capital murder.

    If they are looking at the phone for evidence of murder then they are looking in the wrong place. Look in the church, the churchyard, the truck, and the street.

    Is there any doubt on who did it? Do they suspect an accomplice? Do they expect him to strike again? I'm pretty sure that there were plenty of witnesses that can say who did it, that there were no others, and the one and only suspect is dead. They have the evidence they need. I understand the desire to do a complete investigation, and the need

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @09:54PM (#55578919)

    ... because it sells Apple stuff.

    Consumers want secure devices and Apple knows damn well that if they provide access, buyers will move on to the company that says they won't.

  • this time trump can rip them a new one or make it an big court case and even offer the idea on an fbi only limited no auto wipe and no password time out ios build and force apple in court to say why that is an bad idea.

  • As I see it, the move will open the door for government access to encrypted cell phones.
    If Apple refuses their warrant. they (corporately) can be charged with obstruction (or whatever else they want to throw at them).
    Next step, if Apple refuses to comply: the government attacks Apples' market share by declaring the devices a "Threat to National Security".
    This has a two-fold effect: First, it makes it illegal for Apple to do business in the US, and Second, it make it illegal for the common person to have suc

  • Does the FBI somehow think that they'll discover the true identity of the killer? Or discover that he was aided in his crime by foreign powers such as ISIS or the Russians?

  • ..they're not going to talk about how this latest in a long line of all too frequent mass shootings could be prevented by putting sensible gun laws in place, then? Yeah, just talk about unlocking a dead and clearly insane mass murderer's phone, because that'll help keep people safer in the future, right?
    • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

      They could start by enforcing the laws that already exist, and by sharing relevant information of public record that would have been relevant.

  • > "it's very likely that Apple will give the Rangers the same answer it gave the FBI in 2016 (in effect, hell no!)..."

    That is not the "in effect", the correct "in effect" is "we can't." There is a HUGE difference between "no" and "can't." One is being defiant. The other is stating a limitation.

    If they have no backdoors or broken encryption or copies of the stuff, then it is not a matter of "won't give" but "can't give." It is exactly the same type of answer I would have to give if I were given a warr

  • by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:12AM (#55579865)
    The dead guy can no longer own anything, presumably ownership of the phone now passes to an heir (the mother maybe or a sibling). These heirs seem to be willing to co-operate with the police, so the new owner of the phone should ask for help from Apple to get into what is now their phone.

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.