Attorney General William Barr has asked Apple to unlock the iPhone used by the shooter in Pensacola, Florida (via NYT).
Although no one has called for Apple to explicitly create a backdoor into iOS’s encryption (yet), that is what they’re implying. Apple is unable to unlock the iPhones without knowing the passcode. The company did share data in iCloud backups with the FBI though.
Apple is able to do this because the decryption keys to iCloud backups are stored on its servers, in the event a customer loses their passcode. But it also enables them to share the data with third parties. It’s not true end-to-end encryption.
The San Bernardino dispute was resolved when the F.B.I. found a private company to bypass the iPhone’s encryption. Tensions between the two sides, however, remained; and Apple worked to ensure that neither the government nor private contractors could open its phones.
Officials specifically want access to the shooter conversations in WhatsApp and Signal to figure out whether he planned it with others in the naval base or worked alone.