FBI Missed Critical 48-Hour Window to Open Church Shooter's iPhone

Devin Patrick Kelley Phone: FBI Having Trouble Accessing Texas Church Shooter's Smartphone

Devin Patrick Kelley Phone: FBI Having Trouble Accessing Texas Church Shooter's Smartphone

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance notes that the inaccessible devices have hindered investigations in some of the most serious cases such as murder and sex crimes, according to USA Today.

The inability to gain entry "actually highlights an issue that you've all heard before with the advance of the technology and the phone and the encryptions, law enforcement whether it's at the state, local, or the federal level is increasingly not able to get into these phones", Christopher Combs, an FBI special agent who heads the San Antonio division, said during the press conference.

It could not be learned whether Apple had received a court order to turn over iCloud data.

Apple's fingerprint unlock feature, Touch ID, only works for 48 hours after the last time it is used. That echoed the dilemma that unfolded nearly two years earlier when investigators recovered a password-protected and purportedly uncrackable Apple iPhone belonging to one of the terrorists responsible for the December 2015 rampage in San Bernardino, California.

But a Reuters/CNBC report said that the FBI didn't contact Apple for help, and therefore missed out on advice about utilizing the killers finger to unlock the phone within a 48 hour window.

Twenty-six people were killed in the Sunday shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Also, certain levels of encryption make it impossible to access the phone even after a court order.

The Cupertino-based giant said it reached out to the bureau "immediately" to offer assistance in getting into the gunman's iPhone and expedite its response to any legal process, The Verge reported late on 9 November. The Academy houses the law enforcement agency's training and research center.

After reaching out to the FBI on Tuesday to see if it needed help unlocking Kelley's phone, an official with the agency responded stating the agency was not asking for any assistance. The Washington Post identified the phone as an iPhone.

Rosenstein said "strong encryption is good", but he criticized technology companies for building devices and applications that make it difficult for law enforcement authorities even with a warrant to access encrypted data.

Apple said it had immediately offered to help the FBI even though it was not contacted by authorities.

There may still be one avenue open for Apple to assist the FBI. The Justice Department under President Donald Trump has suggested it will be aggressive in seeking access to encrypted information from technology companies.

Cook argued in a letter to customers that creating software for a back door is far "too dangerous to create", and extremely counterproductive since it would inevitably allow bad actors access to people's data.

But you have to wonder how informative the sessions are and how many are really attending because the iPhone probably could have been accessed if the FBI would have followed some basic steps as soon as they discovered the iPhone. And if U.S. law ultimately compels companies to provide so-called backdoors to their devices, fears abound that undemocratic countries such as China will do the same. "Unfortunately, at this time, we are unable to get into that phone".

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