- On Monday, Attorney General William Barr slammed Apple, saying that the company had not provided “substantive assistance” in helping the FBI gain access to an iPhone belonging to the gunman who killed three people at a Navy air base in Florida last month.
- But Apple pushed back against these comments, saying that it had provided “gigabytes” of data as part of the investigation.
- Some at the FBI agree with Apple, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal. Sources at the agency told The Journal they were “stunned” by the attorney general’s comments because they believed Apple had already provided “ample assistance” in the Bureau’s investigation.
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On Monday, Attorney General Barr said Apple had not provided any “substantive assistance” with unlocking two iPhones belonging to a Saudi shooter who killed three people at Navy base in Florida last month. Now, a new report from The Wall Street Journal suggests that some in the Federal Bureau of Investigation disagree with those remarks.
Some officials within the bureau were surprised at Barr’s words because they felt that Apple had provided adequate help with the investigation, the Journal reports. Another concern among some agents is that the push for Apple to create a backdoor that would enable access to private data stored on iPhones could also sour the bureau’s relationship with the tech giant, the report also says.
The report comes after Barr held a press conference on Monday, where he called on Apple and other tech firms to help the FBI gain access to two iPhones used by the shooter, Mohammad Alshamrani. Apple has since pushed back against Barr’s claims that the tech giant hasn’t provided “substantive assistance,” saying that it has shared “many gigabytes” of information with the FBI.
The Journal’s report underscores an issue that’s been brewing among lawmakers for months about whether encryption, which provides benefits for consumer privacy, could be hampering investigations such as these. Just last month, for example, executives from Apple and Facebook defended their respective companies’ decision to implement encryption in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Apple has pushed back against requests to build a backdoor into the iPhone over privacy concerns.
“We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys,” Apple said in a statement. “Backdoors can also be threatened by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers.”
Appley’s fight with the federal government has escalated over the course of this week. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump slammed the company on Twitter. Apple is also reportedly preparing for a legal fight to defend its position, according to reports from the Journal and The New York Times.
Security experts have also warned that pushing for a backdoor for law enforcement would spell a privacy nightmare for general consumers. Doing so “imperils millions of innocent Americans and others around the globe,” Kurt Opsahl, general counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Business Insider.