The controversy brewing up over the U.S. government’s court-ordered demand that Apple provide it with the tools to hack Apple’s own hacking safeguards took an odd couple of turns overnight.
The most significant development is that it was not the shooter himself who locked the phone such that the FBI cannot access it, but a government official himself. The terrorist didn’t hide his data — the government did it themselves via their own boneheaded incompetence.
The Justice Department acknowledged in its court filing that the passcode of Syed Farook’s iCloud account had been reset. The filing states, “the owner [of the phone, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health], in an attempt to gain access to some information in the hours after the attack, was able to reset the password remotely, but that had the effect of eliminating the possibility of an auto-backup.”
A federal official familiar with the investigation confirmed that federal investigators were indeed in possession of the phone when the reset occurred. The Apple ID passcode was changed less than 24 hours after authorities took possession of the device, a senior Apple executive said today.
Apple could have recovered information from the phone had the Apple ID passcode not been changed, Apple said. If the phone was taken to a location where it recognized the Wi-Fi network, such as the San Bernardino shooters’ home, it could have easily been backed up to the cloud.
In other words, while the FBI is demanding massive changes in how Apple protects your privacy, none of those change would even be necessary if anyone on the government side understood how iCloud works.
The other development was that the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing response to Apple’s public refusal to comply with a court order in the investigation of December’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. The DOJ filed its “motion to comply” on Friday in the U.S. District Court that on Tuesday ordered Apple to write special software to help the FBI hack dead shooting suspect Syed Farook’s iPhone 5C. DOJ claimed Apple’s fight with the FBI is just a “Brand Marketing Strategy.”
Sure, that’s what DOJ thinks of our rights these days, just marketing tricks.