Tag - FBI
Seemingly backing off on statements before Congress, FBI Director James Comey suggested that more court action seeking to circumvent smartphone encryption is likely coming. Speaking with reporters at the agency's Washington DC headquarters yesterday, Comey also claimed that the agency is trying to figure out how to re-utilize the tool that the agency used San Bernardino iPhone 5c in other cases.
This week on The MacNN Podcast episode 61, Mike and Charles briefly discuss how we've structured the leadership of this site modeled on the Dalek hierarchy, and in the tradition of the Daleks, the news is mostly bad -- and that's even before we get to the latest FBI/DOJ shenanigans, this week adding the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to the cast of this drama, sadly on the side of authoritarianism over liberty. The parade of really not-thought-through attempts to modernize privacy laws in the era of digital encryption continues.
The issue of law enforcement gaining access to data on a smartphone has resurfaced, after it was revealed a court ordered an individual to unlock an iPhone seized as evidence in an investigation, by using Touch ID. A Los Angeles court has issued a warrant to the FBI forcing a girlfriend of an Armenian gang member to use Touch ID on the iPhone in question, as it was believed her fingerprint was registered to the device and would provide access to data that could help an ongoing investigation into the gang member move onward.
The FBI may not have spent as much to unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5c than previously claimed by the director of the bureau, according to a report. A previous suggestion by Director James Comey that put the price of the hack in excess of $1.3 million dollars is being declared as an over-inflated number, with numerous government sources of a report putting the figure somewhere below $1 million.
FBI director James Comey may have put a price tag on what it cost the agency to unlock the San Bernardino shooters' iPhone 5c. Directly asked at a security conference in London how much the exploit cost, Comey said that the agency paid "a lot, more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure" which puts the total at well over $1.3 million dollars.
While the San Bernardino "FBI vs Apple" case may have been dropped, the repercussions of both the FBI's initial aggression in the case, and its ultimate actions there, have had ripple effects; both on the national debate over encryption and privacy, as well as in other court cases where the agency -- along with the US Department of Justice -- continue to try and force Apple to disable or compromise its security. In a new filing arguing in favor of a Brooklyn court ruling that Apple was not obligated to crack its own iPhones, Apple points to the San Bernardino case in arguing that the agency has not "exhausted" all avenues, a key requirement of the All Writs Act the FBI is trying to use to force Apple to cooperate.
Apple and the FBI will continue to lobby for their respective positions on smartphone encryption before Congress next week, reports Reuters. The two combatants have been at loggerheads in a debate that spans both security and privacy concerns. The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will convene on April 19 to hear arguments from Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell and Amy Hess, executive assistant director for science and technology at the FBI.
The FBI, in a new case involving a murder, has applied for a new warrant to renew expired ones in an effort to extract further data from a seized iPhone 5s running an unknown version of iOS which the agency believes has further information than it originally extracted with the help of its contractor Cellebrite. The latter company was able to obtain location data from the iPhone, according to the court filing, but failed to go further, which caused older warrants to expire. The FBI now seems to be planning to use its recently-obtained new tools and its own San Diego forensics facility to unlock additional location information.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has yet to find anything of "real significance" buried within the iPhone 5c at the center of the San Bernardino encryption row, according to a report. The iPhone, unlocked last month, is said to have provided very little data to the law enforcement agency as part of its investigation, which involved attempts to force Apple to cooperate in a very public battle, one the FBI cut short after seemingly finding its own solution.
Recently-revealed court documents show that -- in three similar court cases where the US government was attempting to decrypt seized iPhones by seeking to force Apple's compliance using the All Writs Act -- the score at present is win, lose, and draw. A court in Brooklyn flat-out rejected the US Department of Justice's appeal to force Apple to weaken its security, though the government is appealing the decision. In San Bernardino, the FBI won an initial order, but later retreated from the case; and it turns out that in the Boston gang-activity case, the judge did order Apple to assist the FBI -- but specifically excluded decrypting the suspect's iPhone contents, or developing a way to decrypt, from being part of the order.