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
54 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
54 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
54 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
54 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
54 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
54 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)

Popular Stories

iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Monday February 19, 2024 6:52 am PST by
Apple last month confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU and Apple Podcasts transcripts. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay later this year. More details about the new...
General Apps Messages

Apple Announces 'Groundbreaking' New Security Protocol for iMessage

Wednesday February 21, 2024 6:00 am PST by
Apple today announced a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage called PQ3. Apple says this "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks." Apple believes the PQ3 protocol's protections "surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps," according to its blog post:Today we are announcing...
samsung galaxy ring

'Apple Ring' Allegedly in Development to Rival Samsung Galaxy Ring

Tuesday February 20, 2024 2:27 am PST by
Apple is speeding up development of a smart ring that can be worn on the finger to track users' health biometrics, claims a new report coming out of Korea. Teaser image of Samsung Galaxy Ring shown at Galaxy Unpacked in January Apple has toyed with the idea of a ring wearable for several years, as indicated by several patents, but with Samsung preparing to bring its own product to market, the ...
volvo s60 drivers apple maps

iOS 17.4 Beta Adds CarPlay Option to Show Upcoming Maneuvers in Instrument Cluster

Tuesday February 20, 2024 10:47 am PST by
The fourth beta of iOS 17.4 that Apple released today adds a new CarPlay feature, according to the notes that Apple provided to developers. In supported CarPlay vehicles, there's now an Apple Maps option to show information about upcoming maneuvers in the instrument cluster. CarPlay users will be able to swap the display type between the main and instrument cluster by tapping on the map...
m3 macbook pro 14 16

Apple Now Selling Refurbished M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBook Pro Models

Monday February 19, 2024 5:04 pm PST by
Apple today began offering refurbished versions of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M3 Pro and M3 Max chip options, offering the machines at a discount for the first time since their October 2023 release. The release of M3 Pro and M3 Max models on Apple's refurbished store comes almost two weeks after the entry-level 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro first appeared on the store....
apple wallet drivers license feature

Apple Said iPhone Driver's Licenses Will Expand to These 8 U.S. States

Monday February 12, 2024 7:51 am PST by
In 2021, Apple introduced a feature that lets residents of participating U.S. states add their driver's license or ID to the Wallet app on the iPhone and Apple Watch, providing a convenient and contactless way to display proof of identity or age. Unfortunately, states have been slow to adopt the feature since it was first announced in September 2021, with IDs in the Wallet app only available ...
iPad Pro OLED Feature 2

Apple's Upcoming OLED iPad Pro Models Rumored to Be Much Thinner

Tuesday February 20, 2024 1:39 pm PST by
Apple is planning to update the iPad Air and iPad Pro lineups as soon as March, and the new iPad Pro models will be significantly thinner according to dimensions shared by 9to5Mac. Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, the site claims that the larger version will be more than 1mm thinner. The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro measures in at 6.4mm thick, but the new model is said to be 5mm ...