FBI goes Quiet with iPhone Unlock Fight in Boston

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The Department of Justice's fight to force Apple to sidestep iPhone security features in San Bernardino isn't over, and in fact is still very much alive in Boston. Like the San Bernardino case, the FBI is citing the All Writs Act from 1789 as grounds to force Apple to find a way to bypass the iPhone's lock screen, but this time they're doing all under sealed records instead of in the open.

The FBI has another iPhone unlock case, this time in BostonThe FBI has another iPhone unlock case, this time in Boston

In the Boston case, the FBI arrested Desmond Crawford as part of a drug ring and homicide bust related to the Columbia Point Dawgz gang. Officers seized a flip phone and an iPhone 6 Plus from Mr. Crawford, and they want Apple to bypass the iPhone's lockscreen passcode. The warrant is under seal, so the American Civil Liberties Union has asked the court to release the docket sheets related to the case.

What we do have is the affidavit for a search warrant from FBI agent Matthew Knight asking the court to force Apple to bypass the iPhone's lockscreen security and extract encrypted data. The affidavit states,

I also seek authorization for an ORDER requiring Apple, Inc. ("Apple") to assist in the execution of the search warrant by bypassing the lock screen of the iOS device, (Target Telephone 1) and providing technical assistance consisting of, to the extent possible, extracting data from the Device, copying the data from the Device onto an external hard drive or other storage medium, and returning the aforementioned storage medium to law enforcement, and/or providing the FBI with the suspect Personal Identification Number (P.I.N) for Personal Unlock Code (P.U.K.) so that access cam be gained to Target Telephone 1 for this search.

That amounts to what the FBI was pushing for in the San Bernardino case. In that case the FBI wanted access to the encrypted contents of an iPhone 5c recovered from Syed Farook after he was killed in a shootout with police. Mr. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 coworkers and injured 22 others before they were both killed in the shootout.

The FBI obtained a court order compelling Apple to create a special version of iOS that didn't include the built-in security features preventing brute force attacks on device passcodes. Apple filed a motion to vacate the order and also filed a formal complaint with the court, calling the order a danger to privacy and security, and an overreach of government authority. The FBI dropped its fight with Apple when an unnamed third party unlocked the iPhone.

That fight was very public and even included U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch making an appearance on Stephen Colbert's late night talk show in an effort to dispel concerns over privacy, and to say the FBI wanted access to just the one phone, and that it was a one-off request.

Next up: The DOJ's quiet, but big, encryption fight

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Old UNIX Guy


When the Attorney General of the United States and the director of the FBI are knowingly lying to the public on multiple occasions then I sincerely doubt that their intentions are good…

But you did say “may” ...


From the Guardian -

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