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Police and the Feds Can Now Unlock Your iPhone without Apple’s Help

FBI and CSI agents working in the office on a crime. they are working on laptop

In spite of what some law enforcement agencies say, it’s becoming easier for them to unlock our mobile devices. Several reports now indicate that technology companies are providing police with ways to unlock an iPhone, the most secure of all popular mobile devices. Agencies have complained that Apple has prevented them from accessing iPhones during their investigations and say they have no other options.

Android phones have always been less of a problem to unlock because there are many more manufacturers with varying levels of the Android OS, the apps are less secure, and most of the phones rarely get updated when a vulnerability is found. That was noted earlier this week when it was reported that Facebook scraped Android phone users' phone and message logs.

Apple has also taken the greatest care among the leading device manufacturers to protect its customers' confidentiality. One of their arguments for not providing a backdoor to unlock their phones has been that once their phones are susceptible to being unlocked, that capability will be used not only by law enforcement agencies, but also by criminals, putting their customers at risk.

Apple's position is:

We believe security shouldn’t come at the expense of individual privacy.

What we’re commonly asked for and how we respond.

Apple receives various forms of legal process requesting information from or actions by Apple. Apple requires government and private entities to follow applicable laws and statutes when requesting customer information and data. We contractually require our service providers to follow the same standard we apply to government information requests for Apple data.

Our legal team reviews requests to ensure that the requests have a valid legal basis. If they do, we comply by providing the narrowest possible set of data responsive to the request. If a request does not have a valid legal basis, or if we consider it to be unclear, inappropriate, or overly broad, we challenge or reject the request.

We report on the requests every six months.

We’ll continue working for greater transparency and data security protections on behalf of our customers.

Apple has never created a backdoor or master key to any of our products or services.

We have also never allowed any government direct access to Apple servers. And we never will.

One company, Cellebrite, told Forbes that it can unlock all iOS versions up to version 11.2.6, the most recent iteration of Apple's operating system. "With its service offering, Cellebrite can retrieve (without needing to root or jailbreak the device) the full file system to recover downloaded emails, third-party application data, geolocation data and system logs," the company said.

Being able to break into iOS11 means being able to unlock all iPhones including the iPhone X, iPad, iPad mini, iPad Pro, and iPod touch.