FBI Reportedly Asks Apple to Help Unlock Passcode-Protected iPhones Used by Mass Shooter in Florida

In a letter sent late Monday to Apple's general counsel Katherine Adams, the FBI has asked Apple to help unlock two iPhones that investigators believe were owned by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who carried out a mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Florida last month, according to NBC News.


The report claims the iPhones are passcode protected, and one of them appears to be damaged by gunfire. In a statement to NBC News, Apple said it has already provided all of the data in its possession to the FBI:

We have the greatest respect for law enforcement and have always worked cooperatively to help in their investigations. When the FBI requested information from us relating to this case a month ago, we gave them all of the data in our possession and we will continue to support them with the data we have available.

Apple faced a similar situation in 2016, when a U.S. federal judge ordered the company to help the FBI unlock an iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino, California. Apple opposed the order, noting that it would set a "dangerous precedent" with security risks.

Apple's dispute with the FBI ended in just weeks after the U.S. government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone and withdrew the lawsuit.

Based on its statement, it appears that Apple will continue to take a hard line on refusing to unlock iPhones for the FBI.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Israeli firm Cellebrite assisted the FBI with unlocking the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, but Cellebrite has previously denied this claim.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
9 months ago


When it comes to acts of terrorism and murder, Apple needs to comply in these situations. Period.

You can't pick and choose. It's all or none and I vote none.
Score: 70 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
9 months ago
It's disturbing that "a mass shooting" alteady seems like a very common occurence in the US - you've come far in the 20 years after Columbine. Maybe unlocked phones are not the solution to this problem...
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
9 months ago


When it comes to acts of terrorism and murder, Apple needs to comply in these situations. Period.

That hardline view is very noble, but to facilitate it, Apple has to make their devices less secure. Making devices less secure doesn't only aid the FBI and "good" actors; _anyone_ can exploit such loopholes. Then the story will be "iPhones are easy to hack," and nobody will trust Apple. Worse, nobody will have access to private communications.

Even ignoring that, do you really trust the government and law enforcement with such access? This country has a lousy track record of wrongful convictions, false arrests and badgering. So you've reduced your own privacy and made it easier for law enforcement to dig up dirt, but I can guarantee you the impact on terrorists and criminals will be nill. They always find a way.
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
9 months ago
The corrupt (and impeached) Trump administration will use this case as a Trojan Horse to demand that Apple ship spyware on their phones. They already caught the guy, they know everything about him, does the FBI really need to know that he watched cat videos or played angry birds? Fortunately Tim Cook and Apple have seen this trick a million times before and have the backbone to stand up for their users. It's not about protecting criminals, it's about protecting ordinary Apple users from criminals such as the president.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
9 months ago
How about law enforcement goes back to investigating cases like the good old days before smart phones became a thing
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
9 months ago
The problem is not Apple refusing to help or being willing to help, the problem is that iPhones are intentionally designed so that Apple cannot unlock them.

I remember in the 2016 case, the FBI played around with the phone they had to get access to the iCloud data and managed to make that inaccessible, so Apple could and probably would help them to get what they can get. Where Apple will be absolutely firm is to not change their design to be able to unlock phones.


With that said, I would hope that the security on my device is such that it is inaccessible to anybody other than myself, regardless of their ability.

Inaccessible to anybody other than yourself, and that obviously includes Apple.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of 3rd party widgets at launch, iOS users around the...

iPhone 12 Lineup Rumored to Be Named 'iPhone 12 mini,' 'iPhone 12,' 'iPhone 12 Pro,' and 'iPhone 12 Pro Max'

Monday September 21, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
Leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today shared the alleged naming for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup on Twitter. The tweet proposes that the upcoming iPhone 12 models will be titled "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max." The names likely correspond to the three expected sizes of iPhone 12, with the 5.4-inch model being the iPhone 12 mini, the 6.7-inch model ...

Hands-On With the New Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE

Friday September 18, 2020 1:19 pm PDT by
Today's the official launch date for the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, both of which Apple announced on Tuesday. We picked up a couple of the new models and thought we'd give them a quick look for MacRumors readers thinking of ordering a new watch. Apple Watch Series 6 & Apple Watch SE Hands-On! When it comes to design, both the $399 Series 6 and the $279 SE look just like...

iOS 14 Picture in Picture No Longer Working With YouTube's Mobile Website in Safari [Without Premium]

Friday September 18, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 added Picture in Picture to the iPhone, a feature designed to let you watch a video in a small screen on your device while you continue to do other things on the phone. When Picture in Picture was working with YouTube The YouTube app doesn't support Picture in Picture, but up until yesterday there was a functional workaround that allowed videos from YouTube.com to be watched...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

AirPods Studio Rumored to Come With U1 Chip, Ultra-Wideband Said to Be Vital to Future Apple Ecosystem

Sunday September 20, 2020 6:17 am PDT by
Proven leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today shared a range of information about the ultra-wideband U1 chip in Apple's upcoming AirTags item trackers and AirPods Studio headphones. The first of a series of tweets shared today simply stated that AirPods Studio will contain an ultra-wideband U1 chip. It seems likely that the U1 chip would be used in AirPods Studio to track the location of...

Kuo: Apple to Accelerate Adoption of Mini-LED Displays in iPad and Mac Notebook Lineups

Sunday September 20, 2020 10:00 pm PDT by
Increased competition among Apple's suppliers for mini-LED display chips will accelerate the company's adoption of the advanced technology in its iPad and MacBook lineups, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by MacRumors. Kuo says that while Epistar had been predicted to be the exclusive supplier of mini-LED chips for Apple products in 2021, Sanan Optoelectronics...

Top Stories: Apple Event Recap, Apple Watch Series 6, Redesigned iPad Air, and More

Saturday September 19, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
This week's news was obviously dominated by Apple's media event and the launch of iOS 14, but there was a lot to digest, so check out our summary below for the high-level view of the past week. With the exception of the massively redesigned iPad Air, all of the new hardware introduced this week is starting to appear on store shelves and on customers' doorsteps, while all of the new software...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...