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.

ios12 iphone x enter passcode
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

SVTmaniac Avatar
15 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)
Unami Avatar
15 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)
FaustsHausUK Avatar
15 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)
Juan007 Avatar
15 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)
Princejb134 Avatar
15 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)
gnasher729 Avatar
15 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

iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
PIA23764 RoverNamePlateonMars web

NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Uses Same PowerPC Chipset Found in 1998 G3 iMac

Tuesday March 2, 2021 3:21 am PST by
NASA's Perseverance rover, which recently made history landing on the surface of Mars, is powered by the same processor used in an iMac more than 23 years old. Image Credit: NASA As reported by NewScientist (via Gizmodo), the rover includes the PowerPC 750 processor, the same chip used in the G3 iMac in 1998. The main chipset is the same; however, there are differences between the...
magsafe charging brick feature

Prosser: iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery Pack to Feature Reverse Charging

Monday March 1, 2021 1:18 pm PST by
Apple is working on MagSafe-compatible battery packs that will be compatible with the iPhone 12 models, and leaker Jon Prosser today said on the Genius Bar podcast that one version of the battery pack will feature "reverse charging." According to Prosser, Apple is working on two versions of the battery packs, one that's a standard version and one that's a premium version with reverse...
iphone 12 pro display video

iPhone 13 to Include 1TB Storage Option and LiDAR Across the Board, Says Wedbush Analyst

Monday March 1, 2021 4:00 am PST by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 13 could include a 1TB storage option for some models and LiDAR Scanners across the entire lineup, according to a report from Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said that initial Asian supply chain checks gave the firm "increased confidence" that Apple's 5G-driven product cycle would extend well into 2022,...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

Kuo: iPhone 13 Lineup to Feature Smaller Notch and Larger Batteries, 120Hz Display for Pro Models, and More

Monday March 1, 2021 7:50 am PST by
iPhone 13 models will all feature a smaller notch, while the two Pro models will be equipped with low-power LTPO display technology for a 120Hz refresh rate, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Several other sources have previously claimed that some iPhone 13 models will support a 120Hz refresh...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...