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Government Iphone Encryption IOS Privacy Security Software The Courts United States Your Rights Online Apple

Police Unlikely To Win Wider Access To Smartphones Despite FBI Success In San Bernardino Case (latimes.com) 90

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Los Angeles Times: The successful hack of a phone linked to the San Bernardino terror attacks is unlikely to help police win greater access to encrypted data contained inside thousands of smartphones sitting in evidence lockers nationwide, legal experts and law enforcement officials said Tuesday. The process used to gain access to Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone 5c might not work on other devices, according to an FBI official with knowledge of the investigation. Though the FBI might want to use the new tool to help solve outstanding criminal cases, doing so would also make the process subject to discovery during criminal trials and place the information in the public domain, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. "From all the chiefs that I've talked to, we're hopeful this will give us some insight into how we're going to be able to get into some of the phones sitting in all of our evidence rooms," said Terry Cunningham, police chief in Wellesley, Mass., and president of the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police. "We're clearly anxious to learn what they did and how they did it and if it can be replicated."
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Police Unlikely To Win Wider Access To Smartphones Despite FBI Success In San Bernardino Case

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  • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2016 @07:43AM (#51806555)

    Though the FBI might want to use the new tool to help solve outstanding criminal cases, doing so would also make the process subject to discovery during criminal trials

    Only if the use is admitted in court. They can use it in warrantless surveillance without a problem. [wikipedia.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Also, parallel construction is a thing. [wikipedia.org] They snoop into phones / computers / etc, then use that data to create a secondary trail of evidence to the same outcome thus concealing the fact that they snooped without a warrant.

    • Actually, the link you provide specifically says that this method called "Parallel Construction" is illegal in a circumstance where a warrant would have been required for the original evidence. It is always possible that the court will never know that the evidence was tainted but the practice is still illegal. The situation where it is legal is to protect an informant who may be harmed otherwise. Talking to a third person doesn't bring up Fourth or Fifth Amendment issues anyway. The idea of continuing a
  • What an insight! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2016 @07:51AM (#51806583)

    Though the FBI might want to use the new tool to help solve outstanding criminal cases, doing so would also make the process subject to discovery during criminal trials and place the information in the public domain

    Yes, if such a tool exists, details on this process eventually will become public.

    Which exactly was Apple's point.

    All. The. Time.

  • FBI did not win (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2016 @07:59AM (#51806615)

    The media is overstating the case. The actual FBI court filing of two days ago did not say they had defeated the iPhone security; it merely alleged to have 'obtained the contents of the iPhone' in question. Maybe they found an iPhone backup for all we know.

    The FBI has a significant reason to mislead or lie since they would want to avoid a negative precedent being set at the District Court level, especially after federal Magistrate Judge Orenstein of Brooklyn, NY ruling that Apple did not have to be subject to the All Writs Act. I believe that the FBI will wait for an even more sympathetic case.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/technology/apple-wins-ruling-in-new-york-iphone-hacking-order.html

    Even if they had "cracked the iPhone" there is no reason that the FBI would not pursue the case in District Court IF it thought it would prevail, since there is no reason to believe that Apple would not patch the bug and a favorable ruling wold apply to all hardware vendors.

    No, it is clear that the FBI lost this one AND they are likely to be misleading or lying about about the obtaining the information.

    Here is the relevant text from the very short FBI filing:
    “...the FBI has now successfully retrieved the data stored on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple required by this Court Order,”

    The technically naive would naturally think that this means they cracked the iPhone security. Bullshit.

    • by JaiWing ( 469698 )

      more than that they now claim to have destroyed the phone after gaining access but before accessing the data:
      The NewYorker
      "Unlocked iPhone Worthless After F.B.I. Spills Glass of Water on It"
      By Andy Borowitz
      http://www.newyorker.com/humor... [newyorker.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Psst: That URL contains the word "humor" for a reason.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2016 @08:07AM (#51806637)

    Wow, two articles in one day claiming a victory in the case they withdrew. Seems the propaganda machine is in full swing.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Even worse than the expected FBI spin is the NYT coverage both declaring an FBI victory and smearing Apple as a defiant scofflaw.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/18/technology/apple-encryption-engineers-if-ordered-to-unlock-iphone-might-resist.html

      Despite the fact that Timothy Cook said that Apple will follow the law once settled in the courts what it actually is.

      John Markoff is a long-time NYT tech staff writer and I have known him for more than 25 years; I cannot imagine why he would want to vilify Apple in

    • its called LIARS DAY and it 'celebrates' the fact that our government will happily lie, cheat or steal to get what it wants; ironically, becoming the very evil it claims to be at war against!

      april first is 'all fools day'; I propse we take the day before and call it 'all liars day' and we all wear fbi, cia, nsa, leo costumes and make a big party of it.

      (sigh. yes, this is depressing. humor is the only way I can deal with such bullshit.)

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      It stops people thinking about parallel construction. ICREACH https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] and PRISM like contractors at the federal/state/city level https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] The mass use of dirtbox https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] or collecting voice prints.
      Keep using any phone with confidence to chat, call and keep lots of data on it too :)
  • I'll bet the DOJ/FBI spent some money at one of those purveyors of vulnerabilities. You know, the folks who constantly sell hacks and backdoor tricks to governments for big profits.

  • The process used to gain access to Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone 5c might not work on other devices, according to an FBI official with knowledge of the investigation.

    uh DUH!

  • So all those DAs and Police Chiefs were hoping for a "plug in cable and download contents" kind of hack. More likely, the FBI's contractor opened the phone, carefully removed the NAND flash, copied it, and went about the crack in the way described in the ACLU filing. This is a "multiple work week" kind of task and probably would cost $15-20k/phone: the technique, the tools, and the process are well understood. No police department is going to invest $20k to crack a phone for a minor crime.

    Furthermore, t

  • A rich company like Apple could acqu-hire the company who did the FBI's dirty work.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Probably not. Rumor has it that it's an Israeli company. And most companies based in foreign nations that are involved in security or intelligence work are not available for purchase by outsiders. Or anyone not inside the good old boys intelligence circle (definitely not Apple).

      • Rumor has it that it's an Israeli company. And most companies based in foreign nations that are involved in security or intelligence work are not available for purchase by outsiders.

        Except, it seems...for the US, where just about any company or asset of the US is up for sale to other nations....freely.

        I think I only have heard of ONE sale that in recent history was denied, one of the large shipping hubs I think on the east coast somewhere?

  • Is there any proof that the FBI gained access to the data on this phone. I've not seen any. And they have plenty of reasons to lie.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      And they have plenty of reasons to lie.

      Just watch. Every 'no knock' warrant served in So Cal for the next few years will be based on 'intelligence' gathered from Farook's phone.

  • "We need this unusual power for terrorists! Emergency! Emergency! Emergency!"

    "So you won't immediately use it for normal crimes?"

    "Mmmmmm...pay no attention to that tiny pile of thousands of phones behind the curtain."

  • The DOJ don't want you to be able to own a thing they can't open. It could be a new super-secure safe, a car with a security trunk, or an electronic device.

    If they attack your right to own such a thing, they look like bad guys. So, they've been working behind the scenes to ensure you can't acquire such a thing to begin with. The secret moves against Truecrypt and now the iPhone encryption show this new strategy . I don't know how many other companies have been pressured also.

    I think it's wrong, but I don't

  • Since they already demonstrated they don't need apple's help, even after much insistence, it will be much more difficult for them to convince the courts they can't do it without apple's help.

  • by BrendaEM ( 871664 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2016 @10:35AM (#51807697) Homepage

    I cannot trust the US Government had not already opened the phone when they raised is as a fulcrum in a war against personal privacy.
    I cannot trust the US Government successfully opened the phone, because they were in no position to admit they could not.
    I cannot trust the US Government did not state they opened the phone, to wait for a better political climate, meaning after the next inevitable terrorist attack, to push their agenda forward.

    I cannot trust the US Government because they lied to the American people, and went ahead with the Total Information Awareness program--even after they were told not to.

    People, we have three serious problems:
    Firstly, there are terrorists in the world, who do nothing more than than soldiers who strike against civilian targets.
    Secondly, we have people in power using unpolitical tested methods to gain information, and therefor power, with no checks and balances.
    Lastly, and no one seems to be talking about this: it is impossible for any information to collected and observed--and not be used in a partisan way.

  • I was thinking this big priority on accessing phones, surveillance, etc. but generally police no longer respond to burgarlies. I'm old enough to remember police would investigate burgarlies but these days not really. Will it free up resources to concentrate on crimes that effect us commoners?
    • I was thinking this big priority on accessing phones, surveillance, etc. but generally police no longer respond to burgarlies. I'm old enough to remember police would investigate burgarlies but these days not really. Will it free up resources to concentrate on crimes that effect us commoners?

      If the burglar does not leave his iPhone behind then the police will have nothing they can do!

  • The FBI would like to unlock all those phones collecting dust in the evidence room...

    Which got me thinking about a dead man's switch?

    Apple could get the secure enclave to wipe the key and all data on the phone after a long period in the locked state?

    Let's say after 2 months, if the phone hasn't been unlocked successfully you wipe the key and all data.

    I would like something like that on my phone, so if it get stolen or lost I know that it will eventually wipe itself after some time (if I'm unable to do the r

    • In other words, if your phone is lost, you want it to automatically wipe all information on it that would make it possible for somebody to return it to you.

      Why not just toss it off a bridge into the ocean?

      • by Toshito ( 452851 )

        The loss of my phone is of litte consequence to me, apart from the inconvinience of buying a new one and configuring/re-installing the apps.

  • This was not about getting the information. Neither Apple, nor the public, nor the courts said the FBI could not get the information.

    This was always about whether the government could force Apple to get the information for them. That did not happen.

    Therefore the FBI clearly lost this issue. They failed to convince Apple to do their bidding. They failed to convince a court to order Apple to do their bidding. They failed to convince the general public that their bidding was righteous, they even failed

    • As long as the 'case' goes away and we don't have to read about it every day in the MSM, we have all won.

      Except Apple's marketing people.

  • be able to get into some of the phones sitting in all of our evidence rooms

    At what point if any can a defendant request the government return his property (phone)? If we acknowledge that smartphones are different because they contain a huge amount of personal information, should there be a limit to how long law enforcement can hold onto the device?

    It would be like them seizing your entire house of all contents, along with all your safe deposit boxes, and every document from your place of business, and keep them forever while they decide whether or not to make a case against you

  • (That's kinda messed up.)

    "From all the chiefs that I've talked to, we're hopeful this will give us some insight into how we're going to be able to get into some of the phones sitting in all of our evidence rooms," said Terry Cunningham, police chief in Wellesley, Mass., and president of the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police. "We're clearly anxious to learn what they did and how they did it and if it can be replicated."

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