Reuters today reports that Apple has informed a federal judge that it has no way of accessing data that is stored on an iPhone that is locked with a passcode and running iOS 8 or later. Apple revealed this information in a court filing recently in response to the U.S. Justice Department asking if the company would help authorities access data on a seized iPhone.

Ecobee HomeKit Thermostat

 Apple cites strengthened encryption methods in iOS 8 and later for its inability to access data on a locked iPhone. The company noted that more than 90 percent of iOS devices now run a version of the operating system that’s iOS 8 or newer.

Apple said that while it could technically access data stored on the 10 percent of iOS devices running older versions of the operating system, it’s not something it would do without clear legal authority. Apple cited its relationship with customers as its primary reasoning for not wanting to access data on locked devices:

“Forcing Apple to extract data in this case, absent clear legal authority to do so, could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand.”

A hearing is expected to take place on Friday regarding this case. The hearing will determine whether or not Apple can be forced to help the government in following through on a search warrant. Just yesterday, Tim Cook spoke out against software backdoors, again voicing Apple’s support for privacy for its customers.

About the Author