In the recent Apple vs the FBI case, the concern was raised about what would happen if the FBI managed to get Apple to unlock the device. People were worried that this one high-profile phone could open the floodgates to requests to unlock the hundreds of iPhones that are in police custody. Initially, we were told that this wouldn’t be the case but as events unfolded this clarification seemed to fade away and we were left with the answer we had expected from the start, an answer that seems to be confirmed by the FBI already helping others unlock iPhones.
In a letter to local authorities, the FBI promise that “we are in this together” and that they would help local authorities unlock iPhones and even iPods where they can legally. In fact, they already have, in a case for Arkansas prosecutors, the FBI have already agreed to unlock both an iPhone and an iPod.
It doesn’t stop there, according to the Washington post, the FBI are looking at if it would be possible to share the tool with local law enforcement. With the firm that helped the FBI create the tool charging only a one-time flat fee, the FBI could offer the tool as long as it retains its classified tool, an issue which has already hampered and raised issues with devices such as the Stingray.
The full letter can be found below courtesy of Buzzfeed:
Since recovering an iPhone from one of the San Bernardino shooters on December 3, 2015, the FBI sought methods to gain access to the data stored on it. As the FBI continued to conduct its own research, and as a result of the worldwide publicity and attention generated by the litigation with Apple, others outside the U.S. government continued to contact the U.S. government offering avenues of possible research. In mid-March, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking the iPhone. That method for unlocking that specific iPhone proved successful.
We know that the absence of lawful, critical investigative tools due to the “Going Dark” problem is a substantial state and local law enforcement challenge that you face daily. As has been our longstanding policy, the FBI will of course consider any tool that might be helpful to our partners. Please know that we will continue to do everything we can to help you consistent with our legal and policy constraints. You have our commitment that we will maintain an open dialogue with you. We are in this together.
Office of Partner Engagement