UPDATE 1-Police say criminals like Apple iPhones because of encryption – Reuters

8 months ago Comments Off on UPDATE 1-Police say criminals like Apple iPhones because of encryption – Reuters

(Adds details from San Bernardino District Attorney’s filing on
possible third assailant)

By Dan Levine

March 4 Some criminals have switched to new
iPhones as their “device of choice” to commit wrongdoing due to
strong encryption Apple Inc has placed on their
products, three law enforcement groups said in a court filing.

The groups told a judge overseeing Apple’s battle with the
U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday that, among other things,
they were aware of “numerous instances” in which criminals who
previously used so-called throwaway burner phones had switched
to iPhones. They did not list a specific instance.

The brief by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers
Association and two others also cited a jailhouse phone call
intercepted by New York authorities in 2015, in which an inmate
called Apple’s encrypted operating system a “gift from God.”

The government obtained a court order last month requiring
Apple to write new software to disable passcode protection and
allow access to an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the
December killings in San Bernardino, California.

Apple asked that the order be vacated, arguing such a move
would set a dangerous precedent and threaten customer security.

Tech industry leaders including Google, Facebook and
Microsoft and more than two dozen other companies filed legal
briefs on Thursday supporting Apple. The Justice Department
received support from law enforcement groups and six relatives
of San Bernardino victims.

The law enforcement groups said in their brief that Apple’s
stance poses a grave threat to investigations across the

The FBI says Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik,
were inspired by Islamist militants when they shot and killed 14
people on Dec. 2 at a holiday party. The couple later died in a
shootout with police and the FBI said it wants to read the data
on Farook’s work phone to investigate any links with militant

In a filing on Thursday, the San Bernardino County District
Attorney’s Office said at least two 911 calls from the time of
the shooting reported three assailants, not two.

Even though those reports were “not corroborated,” if in
fact there were three attackers it would be important to crack
open the iPhone “to identify as of yet unknown co-conspirators,”
the District Attorney’s filing stated.

Apple has said it respects the FBI and has cooperated by
turning over data in its possession.

The latest request is different, Apple says, because it
requires them to crack a phone with a software tool that does
not currently exist.

(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles;
Editing by Andrew Hay)

UPDATE 1-Police say criminals like Apple iPhones because of encryption – Reuters