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Police can't decrypt iPhone

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Apple deluged by police demands to decrypt iPhones

ATF says no law enforcement agency could unlock a defendant's iPhone, but Apple can "bypass the security software" if it chooses. Apple has created a police waiting list because of high demand.

Apple receives so many police demands to decrypt seized iPhones that it has created a "waiting list" to handle the deluge of requests, CNET has learned.

Court documents show that federal agents were so stymied by the encrypted iPhone 4S of a Kentucky man accused of distributing crack cocaine that they turned to Apple for decryption help last year.

An agent at the ATF, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, "contacted Apple to obtain assistance in unlocking the device," U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell wrote in a recent opinion. But, she wrote, the ATF was "placed on a waiting list by the company."

A search warrant affidavit prepared by ATF agent Rob Maynard says that, for nearly three months last summer, he "attempted to locate a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency with the forensic capabilities to unlock" an iPhone 4S. But after each police agency responded by saying they "did not have the forensic capability," Maynard resorted to asking Cupertino.

Because the waiting list had grown so long, there would be at least a 7-week delay, Maynard says he was told by Joann Chang, a legal specialist in Apple's litigation group. It's unclear how long the process took, but it appears to have been at least four months.

atf2_270x155.png

Excerpt from ATF affidavit, which says Apple "has the capabilities to bypass the security software" for law enforcement. Click for larger image.

The documents shed new light on the increasingly popular law enforcement practice of performing a forensic analysis on encrypted mobile devices -- a practice that can, when done without a warrant,raise Fourth Amendment concerns.

Last year, leaked training materials prepared by the Sacramento sheriff's office included a form that would require Apple to "assist law enforcement agents" with "bypassing the cell phone user's passcode so that the agents may search the iPhone." Google takes a more privacy-protective approach: it "resets the password and further provides the reset password to law enforcement," the materials say, which has the side effect of notifying the user that his or her cell phone has been compromised.

Source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57583843-38/apple-deluged-by-police-demands-to-decrypt-iphones/

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This sounds like a good thing to me.

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Apple looking after the rights to privacy of people. :) Some good news.

These law enforcements can't think they have the right to go through people's belongings. If they say they do, we should respond in kind. "Go through mine and that gives me the right to go through yours".

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This sounds like a good thing to me.

not really, it says that Apple has the ability to do this, well now you have a chain of custody issue... is apple a certified forensics lab? I've never heard of them being one... you can't just hand over evidence to a company and say do this for us and return to us the contents.. it has to be done by a member of law enforcement or a certified lab so the chain of custody is valid and we can prove nothing was altered in the chain..

Apple seems to be acting like this isn't evidence and is just doing a data copy for them

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Apple looking after the rights to privacy of people. :) Some good news.

These law enforcements can't think they have the right to go through people's belongings. If they say they do, we should respond in kind. "Go through mine and that gives me the right to go through yours".

Law enforcement has the right if they have a warrant. Just like searching a home/business....to look at a phones data, you need justification and a warrant. If you read, Apple is giving law enforcement access.

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