News Update!!: Riverside, CA: United States Magistrate Judge orders Apple Inc. to help unlock terrorist attacker Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone, but Apple Inc. C.E.O. refuses.
A United States Magistrate Judge in Riverside, California has ordered Apple Inc. to help the United States of America President Barack Obama Administration hack into an encrypted iPhone belonging to terrorist attacker Syed Rizwan Farook in a first-of-its-kind ruling that pits digital privacy against national security interests.
Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik were involved in a terrorist attack that shot and killed 14 people at a holiday luncheon for Syed Rizwan Farook’s co-workers at the Inland Regional Center on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015.
The ruling on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016 by United States Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym, a former federal prosecutor, requires Apple to supply highly specialized software the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) can load onto Syed Rizwan Farook’s work iPhone to bypass a self-destruct feature, which erases the phone’s data after too many unsuccessful attempts to unlock it.
** Picture from NBC News: **
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) wants to be able to try different combinations in rapid sequence until it finds the right one.
The decision gives the United States Justice Department a significant victory in an entrenched technology policy battle, as more-powerful encryption services threaten the ability of federal agents to uncover important evidence in criminal or terrorism cases.
The United States of America President Barack Obama Administration, which has embraced stronger encryption as a way to keep consumers safe on the Internet, had struggled to find a compelling example to make its case.
The terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California was the deadliest terrorist attack on United States of America soil since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.
The couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, died in a gun battle with law enforcement just hours after the terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015.
Federal prosecutors told the judge in a court application Tuesday, February 16th, 2016 that they can’t access a work phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook because they don’t know his passcode and Apple has not cooperated.
Under United States’ law, a work phone is generally the property of a person’s employer.
United States Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym told Apple to provide an estimate of its cost to comply with her order, suggesting that the government will be expected to pay for the work.
The Apple company, based in Cupertino, California, has provided default encryption on its iPhones since 2014, allowing any device’s contents to be accessed only by the user who knows the phone’s passcode.
The order requires that the software Apple provides be programmed to work only on Syed Rizwan Farook’s work phone, but it was not clear how readily that safeguard could be circumvented.
The order said Apple has 5 days to notify the court if it believes the ruling is unreasonably burdensome.
It also was not immediately clear what investigators believe they might find on Syed Rizwan Farook’s work phone or why the information would not be available from third-party service providers, such as Google or Facebook, though investigators think the device may hold clues about whom the couple communicated with and where they may have traveled.
The couple took pains to physically destroy two personally owned cell phones, crushing them beyond the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.)’s ability to recover information from them.
They also removed a hard drive from their computer; it has not been found despite investigators diving for days for potential electronic evidence in a nearby lake in San Bernardino, California.
Syed Rizwan Farook was not carrying his work iPhone during the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California and was discovered after a subsequent search.
It was not known whether Syed Rizwan Farook forgot about the iPhone or did not care whether investigators found it.
Syed Rizwan Farook’s work phone was running the newest version of Apple’s iPhone operating system, which requires a passcode and cannot be accessed by Apple, unlike earlier operating systems or older phone models.
The County of San Bernardino provided Syed Rizwan Farook with an iPhone configured to erase data after 10 consecutive unsuccessful unlocking attempts.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) have said that feature appeared to be active on Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone as of the last time he performed a backup.
Investigators are still working to piece together a missing 18 minutes in the couple’s timeline from the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California.
Investigators have concluded they were at least partly inspired by the Islamic State group; Tashfeen Malik’s Facebook page included a note pledging allegiance to the group’s leader around the time of the terrorist attack on San Bernardino, California.
In a statement, United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker said, “Since the terrorist attack in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015, that took the lives of 14 innocent Americans and shattered the lives of numerous families, my office, and our law enforcement partners have worked tirelessly to exhaust every investigative lead in the case. We have made a solemn commitment to the victims and their families that we will leave no stone unturned as we gather as much information and evidence as possible. These victims and families deserve nothing less. The application filed today in federal court is another step — a potentially important step — in the process of learning everything we possibly can about the attack in San Bernardino.”
Last week, Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) Director James Comey told members of United States Congress that investigators in the case had been unable to access a phone in the California case but provided no details.
“It is a big problem for law enforcement armed with a search warrant when you find a device that can’t be opened even when a judge says there’s probable cause to open it. It affects our counterterrorism work. San Bernardino, a very important investigation to us, we still have one of those killers’ phones that we have not been able to open, and it’s been over two months and we’re still working on it,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) Director James Comey.
** Picture from NBC News: **
But late on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016, Apple Inc. C.E.O. Tim Cook responded to the order saying that their company will resist the United States Magistrate Judge’s order to hack its users in connection with the investigation into the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California.
“We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone,” said Apple Inc. C.E.O. Tim Cook.
Apple Inc. C.E.O. Tim Cook released a full text open letter on the court ruling in the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California case.
** Apple Inc. C.E.O. Tim Cook’s Letter: **
The United States Magistrate Judge’s order to Apple Inc. and Apple Inc. C.E.O. refusing the order will start at a fight and debate between protecting privacy of customers and the public, and security of the country and protecting the country against terrorists.
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