U.S. government rebuts Apple claim on password reset in iPhone case

“A decision to reset the password on an iCloud account associated with one of the San Bernardino attackers did not effectively thwart the investigation into the shooting, FBI officials said in a court filing Thursday as part of the Justice Department’s ongoing encryption dispute with Apple Inc,” Eric Tucker and Tami Abdollah report for the Associated Press.

“FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress last week that “there was a mistake” made when the FBI asked San Bernardino County, which owned the phone, to reset the password for an account tied to Syed Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people in the December 2 shootings,” Tucker and Abdollah report. “In a sworn declaration submitted Thursday, Christopher Pluhar, an FBI agent involved in processing the evidence, said the password reset did not harm the investigation. Farook’s iPhone, which was found powered off, had the iCloud backups turned off for his mail, photos and notes, and aren’t believed to be complete, Pluhar said. And even with a full set of backups, the Justice Department said, the government would still have needed to search the phone ‘in order to leave no stone unturned’ in the investigation.”

“The statement is aimed at rebutting earlier claims from Apple that said that if the FBI had not changed the iCloud password, its engineers could have helped investigators use a known — and therefore trusted — wireless connection to trick the iPhone from automatically backing up to iCloud,” Tucker and Abdollah report. “The brief, which sets the stage for a March 22 hearing in Southern California, marks a further escalation of rhetoric between the federal government and one of the world’s largest technology companies… Apple responded Thursday by saying the Justice Department is ‘so desperate at this point that it has thrown all decorum to the winds.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote on October 20, 2015:

Too many people do not realize how lucky we are that Tim Cook is CEO of Apple Inc. No matter what else Cook does, as long as he holds his ground on this issue, he’s one of the greatest CEOs in history. We need and are lucky to have a man with a strong backbone to stand up to this constant pressure from misguided government spies who’re hell bent on running roughshod over the U.S. Constitution and U.S. citizens’ rights.

The U.S. federal government should adhere to the U.S. Constitution and governments everywhere should respect their citizen’s rights.

SEE ALSO:
Apple: U.S. Justice Dept attempting to ‘smear’ company by taking a ‘cheap shot’ – March 10, 2016
Apple is openly defying US demands for ‘backdoors,’ but in China Apple takes a very different approach – February 17, 2016
Apple agrees to subject products to Chinese government security inspections – January 22, 2015

32 Comments

  1. Last night the DOJ head was on Steven Colbert, dissing Apple and refusing comment on Hillary. And then closing (to applause) with the statement that they treat all cases the same, whether they involve famous people or companies. And no one called her out to say “Then why are you pushing THIS case on TV?” Colbert was a pushover. Jon Stewart must be ashamed.

  2. Yes, most people in this country are gullible, stupid and uninformed, as evidenced by the fanfare for Trump.

    It’s up to Apple’s customers to organized an effeort to shut down the FBI and DOJ’s disgraceful efforts to control Apple’s software and the privacy of all phones, tablets and digital devices.

    Stop government’s intrusion and trampling of the people’s right to privacy now!

    Call your congressman and senator and let them know they must protect tje people’s right to privacy and security.

      1. Yes, most people in this country are gullible, stupid and uninformed, as evidenced by their putting Obama in office, twice, and now wanting to do the same on the other side of the aisle with Trump.

        1. Every GOP presidential candidate has come out against Apple. If elected, we know what Trump would do, and given his neo fascist tendencies would not hesitate to go after Apple and try to force them to do any number of privacy invasions. The rest of the GOP is as bad; Trump just says it more forcefully.

  3. Despite his reputation as a liberal, Obama has been relentless in pursuing leakers and advocating intrusions into our personal liberties. The Obama Administration has brought more leak prosecutions that all prior administrations combined. Very disappointing. This Administration is seeking absolute power, and we know how that corrupts.

    1. I would argue that “Liberal,” by definition today, would imply supporting the power of the government over the people and especially the individual. Therein being the essential difference between the so called conservative agenda and the liberal agenda.

      Consequently Obama is doing what you would expect a big government liberal to do. He favors the power of the government over the people, or the individual. To him, it is more important to protect the collective than the rights of any one person. He does not acknowledge that crushing individual rights endangers the collective even more.

      Liberals want equality. Not equal opportunity, but equality. Conservatives seek Liberty. Liberty and freedom, particularly from government is at the core of conservative ideology. It is at the core of the Constitution, and the founding of the Republic. Hence “Republicans.”

      Liberals will seek to further the quest for equality no matter the cost in freedom which is why they often find themselves at odds with the Constitution. Liberals like Diane Feinstein and the moron in California who introduced the bill to essentially ban iPhones.

      So the real question is why so many so called conservatives are on the side of the FBI. I can only surmise they are concerned with being seen as pro-terrorist or something.

      1. Right, Republicans want liberty and freedom, except when it comes to womens reproductive equipment, then they want control. Or when people of the wrong skin tone show up at a rally, then they get downright violent and threatening. Been to a Trump rally yet, TM?

    2. Liberals also typically despise corporations and seek to empower the government over corporations. So again, Obama is behaving in character. It is fascinating that it is a corporation seeking to protect our individual rights is it not? Not to mention all the corporations supporting Apple.

      When issues come up, and solutions are proposed, a conservative should first ask themselves, “Does this limit or increase freedom?” As such, when the government demands that a corporation make them a set of keys to an iPhone, we are looking at dismantling certain freedoms. This should be a slam dunk NO for conservatives, but conservatives are a cowardly lot.

      Individual conservatives should let their representatives know in no uncertain terms that they do not support the government in this matter.

  4. If the phones is locked, how does this agent know what the settings are on the phone? Liers all.

    I can’t believe how the DOJ is using the media to try to influence this case in the court and public opinion especially in light of he Android hack in Australia which hit the banks and the hacking of the Bangladesh Bank which led to the New Youk Fed sending millions to the hackers.

  5. I’m sick of this already. 10 articles a day is ridiculous.
    Sort this out in the courts and take it all the way up to the SCOTUS. They need to decide on the constitutionality of this issue.

  6. I wonder how ugly it’s going to get before the wee people react and do something about it.

    Meanwhile it should be not surprising to see:

    – Use that propaganda machine of theirs to slander Apple.
    – Demands Apple’s secret crown jewels to open the phone.
    – Go to war, Invade another country. Oh wait they are going to do that anyway. It’s in their DNA (Destructive Nuclear Arsenal).
    – Declare Apple an enemy combatant company and give the executives a one way ticket to the Guantanamo on the Bay Resort.

    It just keeps getting uglier and uglier. It’s way past time to bare arms and flex some muscle, but I think the wee people are hoodwinked to the point that they won’t realize what they have given up until they are being shipped around in cattle cars to the new and improved USchwitz summer camp.

  7. Ok, I’ll play dumb here.

    Who’s the fu**ing guys who resetted the password. Go after him!

    He doesn’t want to give you the new password? Jail him… Until he give you that new password… Case closed…

    Mmmm…

  8. This is the most important issue of our time. It could very well shape the future of America and the consequences of which will impact our children and their children.

    Meanwhile, we have jerkoffs like doggonetoo complaining that he’s tired of reading about it. It’s no wonder we find ourselves in the situation that we are in now.

    1. Asshole – I said this is a constitutional issue and needs to be decided by the higher courts since it is such an important issue.
      I would be very surprised if the SCOTUS sided with the gov’t on this one.

  9. “This is the most important issue of our time. It could very well shape the future of America…”

    This is absolutely true. If the FBI wins this it will fundamentally change the way the world views the US and democracy. This would then make the US effectively a *police* state, a government that has full power to enter your private life. This will make a shambles of American democracy and make it no different than Putin or China. There’s a lot riding on this case.

    1. If you truly believe this is the most important issue, then you must vote for Democrats in this year’s election. And yes, I know that President Obama is a Democrat and it’s his DOJ that is investigating this. But remember the head of the FBI is a Republican.

      And so far it’s primarily Republican Senators and Representatives who have spoken out against Apple. And the GOP presidential candidates have all sided against Apple.

      This all began under Bush with the Patriot Act, invasion of Iraq, use of torture, etc….all because many in the public freaked out over terrorism, wanted security above all, and the GOP and Bush only exploited that instead of showing real leadership.

      Obama has tried to temper that down, but he has only so much political latitude.

      But no doubt it is the GOP that would ramp this type of invasion of privacy up another notch.

      1. Wrong again Wade. In fact just the opposite. Democrats seldom favor the rights of individuals and this is a question of individual rights. As I said earlier, concerning Obama’s position, “I would argue that “Liberal,” by definition today, would imply supporting the power of the government over the people and especially the individual. Therein being the essential difference between the so called conservative agenda and the liberal agenda.

        Consequently Obama is doing what you would expect a big government liberal to do. He favors the power of the government over the people, or the individual. To him, it is more important to protect the collective than the rights of any one person. He does not acknowledge that crushing individual rights endangers the collective even more.

        Liberals want equality. Not equal opportunity, but equality. Conservatives seek Liberty. Liberty and freedom, particularly from government is at the core of conservative ideology. It is at the core of the Constitution, and the founding of the Republic. Hence “Republicans.”

        Liberals will seek to further the quest for equality no matter the cost in freedom which is why they often find themselves at odds with the Constitution. Liberals like Diane Feinstein and the moron in California who introduced the bill to essentially ban iPhones.

        So the real question is why so many so called conservatives are on the side of the FBI. I can only surmise they are concerned with being seen as pro-terrorist or something.”

        1. I partially agree, except that conservatives when they get into power typically use the power of the state to crush individuals. Why else pass laws to deny women rights to control their own bodies, or to deny marriage rights to same gendered people? They have no problem with guns in the hands of wackos, the mentally incompetent, or authoritarian types wanting to parade on the streets with assault weapons completely unregulated, or even with kids shooting their friends and family members accidentally, or even intentionally, just to protect their collective 2nd Amendment right to be armed in a militia, in the name of freedom. But, heaven forbid we be allowed to protect ourselves from hackers and thieves in the name of avoiding some strawman attack by fanatics. Yes, I left off the Islamic Terrorist appellation because we have plenty of regular everyday American terrorists running around with weapons looking to attack government offices and social facilities. Everyone on the right seems to think that’s OK because they’re members of their own tribe and are unlikely to target them.

          Yes, I’m very disappointed with Obama and Feinstein. I’m a liberal and believe government should be protecting the populace, but not at the price of trampling over our Constitution. If the FBI believes it has the right to implement a full blown police state, and is using this case as its first step in that crusade, it should file its court papers and let the case wend its way to the Supreme Court, not turn to the typical Republican slander attack machine to rile emotions and avoid the substantive issues at hand. Doing so merely shows that you believe your arguments are weak and you need to trick people with emotional ploys, or to intimidate the opposition into submission. We see this approach in play almost daily in the Republican nomination process. Trump has no policies that have broad support, so he turns to platitudes and emotional buttons to thread his way through the process. This is far beyond normal political triangulating to try to avoid alienating some voters. It’s all the way to demagoguery.

          Apple has clearly said that if the Congress passes a law that passes Constitutional muster with the Supreme Court, it will comply. At that point, Apple’s iPhone business is probably dead. No one cares that other phones are currently insecure, as long as they’re cheap, but if the champion of individual security can no longer provide secure products you might as well stop using a smartphone if you want to protect your online privacy.

          1. “… I partially agree, except that conservatives when they get into power typically use the power of the state to crush individuals. Why else pass laws to deny women rights to control their own bodies, or to deny marriage rights to same gendered people? …”

            In enforcing same-sex marriage, the rights of the states were violated. You and I might agree that people should be able to get married, but that’s just our opinion. Who are we to force our minority opinion on others? California repeatedly voted against same-sex marriage, but the advocacy would not surrender until they were able to force the state to accept it. States rights are a pillar of Republican ideology.

            Then there is a question as to whether or not getting married is a right.

            More importantly I believe that the real reason was that Republicans are cowardly, and as such do not have the courage to stand up to the religious right. Any right-minded Republican should have come to the conclusion that denying a minority of people the FREEDOM to get married is contrary to the very principals we claim to stand for.

            1. However, this issue did wend its way through the courts, the Supreme Court did render a decision, and the states are beholden to comply, like it or not. That’s all Apple wants here, for there to be a public, rational discussion about what’s at stake, and for the Congress to come up with a public, open decision that will stand up to Constitutional muster. Then, by the time the Supreme Court makes a decision everyone will have had an opportunity to mull over the pros and cons, and fully understand that they’re buying into either believing every citizen has a right to protect its sensitive information from those who would abuse its use for self serving purposes, or that they’re agreeing to give the governments and hackers of the world access to that data and willing to deal with the inevitable consequences of that decision.

              Apple’s ethos mandated it pursue this course. Contrary to the cynics among us who think every corporation is only out to maximize profits, Apple has always been about creating the best products it can, and letting profits come from customers who love those products. I’m a 32 year fanboy for a reason, and it’s not because I enjoy getting ripped off with pretty, but unreliable junk. Apple simply couldn’t sit by and let the government keep incrementing its requests beyond the reasonable. A threshold was passed, and Apple said enough. You want any more, take it to the public, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. Then at least the public will know what they’re giving away. Are those 14 coworkers the radicals killed more valuable than the dozens of deaths of random ordinary citizens we accept willingly seemingly weekly in the name of the 2nd Amendment? I think not. There’s a price we pay to be a free people. If America is willing to allow government to increment away what it means to be America, then we’re truly lost.

          2. “… Yes, I left off the Islamic Terrorist appellation because we have plenty of regular everyday American terrorists running around with weapons looking to attack government offices and social facilities. Everyone on the right seems to think that’s OK because they’re members of their own tribe and are unlikely to target them…”

            This is your imagination on hyperbolic overdrive. I think deep down you know that, but creating this picture of Americans as terrorists suits your belief system. Show me examples of all this American terrorism.

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