As in a repeat of the San Bernardino case, Apple responded to the United States' Attorney General William Barr, as well as to the FBI, who are claiming assistance in unlocking two iPhones. Apple has again drawn a red line between what it is willing to do and what it absolutely refuses.
On December 6, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a member of the Saudi Arabian military training in the United States, killed three people and injured eight others at Pensacola Military Naval Base in Florida. An act qualified as terrorist.
The object of the request is similar to that of the San Bernardino case where the FBI wanted Apple to provide a way to bypass the protections of the iPhone by creating a drobic door in iOS. Something that Apple has always refused, forcing the FBI to turn to a third party to defeat this lock.
At the time of his act, the Pensacola shooter had two iPhones, a 5 and a 7. He put one of the two on the ground, on which he fired a burst, the other suffered no damage. Investigators were able to return the abm iPhone to service, however both phones have locked access. The services assume that they contain traces of exchanges with possible accomplices.
In a long statement, Apple rejects William Barr's claim that no substantial assistance was not provided (read The American Minister of Justice wants Apple to unlock the Pensacola shooter's iPhone) and rolls up the exchange schedule with the FBI.
As of December 6, many and varied information were communicated, in response to requests from the FBI sent a few hours after the events. Then, from 7 to 14, six additional requests led to, among other things, providing iCloud backups, account information and transaction data for multiple accounts. Apple has responded diligently, she insists, by transmitting several gigabytes.
It was only between January 6 and 8 that the FBI came back with new requests and that Apple learned of the existence of a second iPhone on which investigators were hitting. Apple also points out the timing of the federal agency, stressing that it is essential that requests are sent as soon as possible to access information and find new options.
In conclusion, she traces this border which she does not intend to cross in the Pensacola affair, as she refused to do for San Bernardino in 2016:
We have always argued that there is no such thing as a right door for the good. Escape doors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the security of our customers' data. Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before, so Americans don't have to choose between weakening encryption and solving business. We believe that encryption is essential to protect our country and the data of our users.
The position of Apple does not change but of Obama Trump, the American administration, it has changed. David Bowdich, deputy director of the FBI, assured that the agency was not seeking to weaken the encryption systems. However, William Barr suggested that obtaining such an option, through legislation, when such cases arise, is under discussion.
We were devastated to learn of the tragic terrorist attack on members of the US armed services at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida on December 6th. We have the greatest respect for law enforcement and routinely work with police across the country on their investigations. When law enforcement requests our assistance, our teams work around the clock to provide them with the information we have.
We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation. Our responses to their many requests since the attack have been timely, thorough and are ongoing.
Within hours of the FBIs first request on December 6th, we produced a wide variety of information associated with the investigation. From December 7th through the 14th, we received six additional legal requests and in response provided information including iCloud backups, account information and transactional data for multiple accounts.
We responded to each request promptly, often within hours, sharing information with FBI offices in Jacksonville, Pensacola and New York. The queries resulted in many gigabytes of information that we turned over to investigators. In every instance, we responded with all of the information that we had.
The FBI only notified us on January 6th that they needed additional assistance a month after the attack occurred. Only then did we learn about the existence of a second iPhone associated with the investigation and the FBI's inability to access either iPhone. It was not until January 8th that we received a subpoena for information related to the second iPhone, which we responded to within hours. Early outreach is critical to accessing information and finding additional options.
We are continuing to work with the FBI, and our engineering teams recently had a call to provide additional technical assistance. Apple has great respect for the Bureaus work, and we will work tirelessly to help them investigate this tragic attack on our nation.
We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers. Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations. We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users' data.