FBI Can Keep Details of iPhone Hack Secret, Rules Judge

The FBI doesn’t have to identify the company it contracted to unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the 2015 California terror attack that killed 14 people, a federal judge ruled on Saturday (via Politico).

Three news organizations – USA Today, Associated Press, and Vice Mediasued the FBI last year under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to try to force the agency to reveal the name of the company and the amount it was paid to unlock the device.

In the original complaint, the news organizations argued that the public had a right to know how the government spent taxpayer funds in the case. They also claimed the existence of a flaw in the iPhone could be a danger to the public. However, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled this weekend that the information is exempt from mandatory disclosure under the government transparency law.

In her ruling, released Saturday night, Chutkan said the identity of the firm that managed to unlock the iPhone and the price it was paid to do so are classified national security secrets and constitute intelligence sources or methods that can also be withheld on that basis. She also ruled that the amount paid for the hack reflects a confidential law enforcement technique or procedure that is exempt from disclosure under FOIA.

A battle between Apple and the FBI began in early 2016 when Apple refused to help the government unlock shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone 5c under the belief that it could set a bad precedent for security and privacy. The FBI didn’t know what was on the device at the time, but believed that any information gathered could potentially help move the case of the San Bernardino attack forward in meaningful ways.

To break into Farook’s iPhone 5c, the FBI later employed the help of “professional hackers” and reportedly paid upwards of $1.3 million for a tool exploiting a security vulnerability, a figure arrived at based on comments made by then-FBI director James Comey. The agency said it was not able to share with Apple the hacking methods used because it did not own the rights to the relevant technical details regarding the purchased technique.

The FBI has said the method used to break into the iPhone 5c does not work on the iPhone 5s and later, but it can be used to access iPhone 5c devices running iOS 9. It later revealed after the hack that nothing on the phone relevant to the investigation was found.

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Tag: Apple-FBI

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Apple Investigating Two Possible iPhone 8 Plus Battery Failures

Apple is investigating after two iPhone 8 Plus owners shared pictures of the device bursted open due to possible battery failure.

iPhone 8 Plus bursted open due to possible battery failure via iFeng


“We are aware and are looking into it,” an Apple spokeswoman confirmed to MacRumors.

The first customer is reportedly a Taiwanese woman, who said her iPhone 8 Plus burst open despite charging with an official Apple power adapter. Chinese media sites reported that the device has been returned to Apple, as part of its routine investigation of these isolated incidents every year.

A second customer from Japan shared a picture of an iPhone 8 Plus with the display assembly detached from the device’s aluminum enclosure.



In both cases, it appears that the battery may have swelled due to gases inside. The expansion then placed too much pressure on the display, causing it to pop open, which may actually help avoid a fire.

No Need to Worry

With millions of iPhones coming off of Apple’s production lines every time new models launch, it’s common for a few to have battery failures.

It’s simply an inevitability with lithium-ion batteries.

It happened with some iPhone 7 models, and it’ll probably happen with iPhone X and whichever models come after.

It’s only when reports of battery failure become a larger trend, as Samsung learned the hard way after dozens of Galaxy Note 7 devices caught fire last year, that it truly becomes a problem.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

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Wrap your Series 3 in Italian leather with Meridio’s Apple Watch bands [Watch Store]

For the ultimate in refined, high-quality leather accessories, look to Italy’s centuries-old leather-making tradition. Now Apple Watch lovers can wear a little bit of this fine leather on their wrists in the form of Meridio’s Vintage Collection bands for Apple Watch. These are beautifully made bands. And, we have the entire Vintage Collection on view in […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)