Apple’s iPhone Security Measures Prompt Queue Of Unlock Requests From Law Enforcement

Posted: May 10, 2013 in Apple, Gadgets, GT, Mobile
Tags: , , ,

Apple faces a whole lot of inbound requests to unlock
iPhone devices from law enforcement officials,
according to a new report from CNET. Seized
iPhones with a passcode lock are apparently secure
enough to frustrate a lot of police agencies in the
U.S., resulting in a wait list that Apple has put in place to help it deal with unlock requests from the
authorities. The waiting list was long enough that it resulted in a
7-week delay for a recent request by the ATF last
summer, according to the CNET report. The good
news for iPhone owners is that the ATF in that
instance turned to Apple as a last resort, after trying
to find a law enforcement body at either the local, state or federal level that had the capability to unlock
the phone in-house for three months to no avail. The
bad news is that an affidavit obtained by CNET, the
decryptions seem to take place without necessarily
requiring a customer’s knowledge, whereas with
Google there’s a password reset involved that notifies a user via email of the unlock. Apple can reportedly bypass the security lock to get
access to data on a phone, download it to an external
device and hand that over to the authorities,
according to an ATF affidavit, which means that
ultimately, the information on an iOS device isn’t 100
percent secure. But overall, repeated reports peg Apple devices as particularly resistant to prying eyes
operating in law enforcement. A previous report from CNET also identified iMessage
as resilient in the face of outside surveillance
attempts, especially compared to more common text
communication methods like SMS. Combined, the
reports suggest that Apple’s technology for its mobile
devices is especially good at repelling unwanted advances, which is great for privacy buffs, though the
policies around when and why Apple does share that
information needs more fleshing out. We’ve reached out to Apple to see if they have any
official comment on the unlock queue from law
enforcement and how they proceed with requests, and
will update if we hear more.

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