Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

The FBI has asked Apple to help unlock the Florida gunman’s iPhones

January 8, 2020
First responders
First responders
First respondersAP

The news: The FBI has sent Apple a request for the data on two locked and encrypted iPhones belonging to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the gunman who killed three people at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida, last month. He was shot dead by officers on the scene.

The FBI has a search warrant for both devices and has been trying to guess passwords, according to the New York Times. Apple has said it has handed over all the data it possesses, including iCloud data, but it is impossible for it to bypass its own encryption and gain access to the devices. The existence of the letter was first reported by NBC.

Déjà vu: The situation is similar to a dispute between Apple and FBI in 2016 over an iPhone belonging to one of the perpetrators in the San Bernardino shooting. In that case, the FBI eventually found a private company able to break into the phone.

A potential showdown: This case could lead to another fight between the FBI and Apple over encryption, and feed into wider tensions between government and tech companies about this topic. Back in 2016 Apple’s CEO Tim Cook argued that creating a back door into iPhones would weaken security for all users. “Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices,” he wrote.

However, US Attorney General William Barr has been turning up the rhetoric on encryption recently. Last month he said that letting law enforcement agencies crack encrypted devices was one of the Justice Department’s “highest priorities.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

AV2.0 autonomous vehicles adapt to unknown road conditions concept
AV2.0 autonomous vehicles adapt to unknown road conditions concept

The big new idea for making self-driving cars that can go anywhere

The mainstream approach to driverless cars is slow and difficult. These startups think going all-in on AI will get there faster.

biomass with Charm mobile unit in background
biomass with Charm mobile unit in background

Inside Charm Industrial’s big bet on corn stalks for carbon removal

The startup used plant matter and bio-oil to sequester thousands of tons of carbon. The question now is how reliable, scalable, and economical this approach will prove.

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.