FBI Stories October 7

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A statement by the FBI has raised the possibility of a second legal battle with Apple in a very similar case to the San Bernardino shootingWired reports that an FBI agent speaking about the case of the man who stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall last month has said that the agency was considering legal as well as technical options.

At a press conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota today, FBI special agent Rich Thorton said that the FBI has obtained the iPhone of Dahir Adan, who stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall before a police officer shot and killed him. (The fundamentalist militant organization ISIS claimed credit for the attack via social media.) As in Farook’s case, the attacker’s phone is locked with a passcode. And Thorton said the FBI is still trying to figure out how to gain access to the phone’s contents.

“Dahir Adan’s iPhone is locked,” Thornton told reporters, “We are in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain.”

The similarities in the two cases are notable …

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FBI Stories September 16

AAPL: 114.92

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FBI Stories August 22

AAPL: 108.51

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It’s just ten days since I pointed to a Microsoft security leak as proof of my point that any iPhone master key created by Apple would inevitably fall into the wrong hands in time – and even more powerful support for that position now exists.

It was revealed last week that powerful hacking tools created by the NSA have been leaked, and are now being auctioned to the highest bidder. Christopher Soghoian, Principal Technologist with the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, summarised that argument in a single tweet.

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FBI Stories August 12

AAPL: 108.18

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Update: Steve Gibson has taken issue with the ‘golden key’ term used by Ars, arguing that it overplays the significance of the vulnerability.

I wrote an opinion piece predating the San Bernardino shootings on why Apple was right to stand firm on encryption even in the face of terrorist attacks, and another one afterwards explaining why it would be too dangerous to give the FBI the iPhone master key they demanded.

My main argument was that something as powerful as a master key to unlock an iPhone would eventually fall into the wrong hands.

So soon, the FBI would hold the key. Then other law enforcement agencies. In time, that key would be held in every police precinct house. We would then be trusting more than a million people with access to that key to abide by the rules. Government agencies don’t always have the best of track-records in doing that.

And Microsoft has just proven my point, even with code that was never intended to leave the company’s possession …

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FBI Stories July 25

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A second federal judge has ruled that a suspect can be compelled to unlock their iPhone using their fingerprint in order to give investigators access to data which can be used as evidence against them. The first time this ever happened in a federal case was back in May, following a District Court ruling in 2014.

The latest case involves a suspect accused of particularly unpleasant crimes, reports Ars Technica.

A Dallas, Texas man accused of prostituting underage girls was secretly ordered by a federal judge to unlock his iPhone using his fingerprint, according to federal court documents that are now unsealed.

The legal position of forcing suspects to use their fingerprints to unlock devices won’t be known with certainty until a case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, but lower court rulings so far appear to establish a precedent which is at odds with that concerning passcodes …

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FBI Stories July 20

AAPL: 99.96

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