Donald Trump Calls out Apple for Not Unlocking Florida Shooter’s iPhones

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 15 Jan 2020

Apple Store logo

US President Donald Trump has called out for not unlocking the iPhones of the Florida shooter Mohammed Saeed Aishamrani. In a tweet, Trump said that the US government helps Apple all of the time on trade and so many other issues and yet it refuses to unlock iPhones used by killers, drug deals, and others.

He urges the company to step up and help make “America great again.” The two iPhones of the Florida shooter in question are an iPhone 5 and iPhone 7.

The FBI had asked Apple for help to unlock the iPhone of the Florida shooter. While the Cupertino company did not do so, it did provide the law enforcement agency with gigabytes of other data. This led the U.S. Attorney General William Barr to openly criticize Apple and say that the company did not provide any “substantive assistance” in the case.

Apple then issued a lengthy statement of its own in which it clarified that it has been timely providing assistance to the law enforcement agency in the Florida shooting attack. It further added that it provided the FBI with “all of the information” that it had.

Our Take

The entire scenario between Apple and the FBI is similar to what happened between the two in 2016 over unlocking the iPhone 5c of the San Bernardino shooter. Apple handed over all the relevant data it had in that case as well but refused to unlock the iPhone despite massive pressure from the FBI and the US government. It is likely that we will see something similar play out here.

One thing that’s important to note is that Apple does not have the tools or means to unlock locked iPhones. It has not created any kind of backdoor in its products for such scenarios. The company is also strictly against creating one as in the wrong hand, such a tool could be disastrous to users’ privacy.

In the San Bernardino case, the FBI ended up taking the help of professional hackers to unlock the shooter’s iPhone 5c, though it did not find any useful information. This time around as well, the FBI can take the help of Cellebrite or Elcomosoft that offer the necessary tools to unlock iPhone 5s to iPhone X running iOS 12.3 – iOS 13.3.