News & Politics

Federal Judge Orders Apple to Unlock San Bernardino Terrorist's Phone

A week ago, I wrote a post about the FBI’s struggles to unlock data on the phone of one half of Islam’s Couple of the Year. It seems at after being thwarted for so long, someone at the Bureau remembered, “Oh yeah, we’re the feds.”

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Apple to give investigators access to encrypted data on the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, assistance the computer giant “declined to provide voluntarily,” according to court papers.

In a 40-page filing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles argued that it needed Apple to help it find the password and access “relevant, critical … data” on the locked cellphone of Syed Farook, who with his wife Tashfeen Malik murdered 14 people in San Bernardino, California on December 2.

“Despite … a warrant authorizing the search,” said prosecutors, “the government has been unable to complete the search because it cannot access the iPhone’s encrypted content. Apple has the exclusive technical means which would assist the government in completing its search, but has declined to provide that assistance voluntarily.”

To say that this is an over-correction of a previous stance on the part of Apple is a gross understatement. One would hope that some common sense would enter into the conversation when blatantly obvious matters of national security are the issue. Trying to glean information about people who have already committed an attack isn’t the same as violating the privacy of people not guilty of anything, which is a worry of Apple CEO Tim Cook.

It is unlikely that this phone will yield info about other attackers. Then again, it might, and we should have known that sooner.