FBI requests warrant to unlock iPhone 5c connected to California murder investigation

“Rather than seeking Apple’s assistance, the FBI plans to work with its own San Diego Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory to obtain data from a seized iPhone 5c involved in a murder investigation, if it is awarded a warrant to do so,” Neil Hughes reports for AppleInsider.

“The bureau issued an application for a search warrant in the Southern District of California on Thursday, seeking to unlock a blue iPhone 5c that was owned by Taylor Langston,” Hughes reports. “She and her boyfriend, David Meza, are accused of stabbing 52-year-old Jake Clyde Merendino to death.”

“In the application first discovered by AppleInsider, the FBI notes that it previously obtained search warrants to extract location data from Langston’s iPhone 5c, and reveals that information was obtained using Cellebrite technology. The same Israeli firm has worked with the FBI in past investigations to help crack open iPhones,” Hughes reports. “Cellebrite’s methods apparently were not enough, however, as the warrant application notes there is additional information the FBI hopes to obtain from the iPhone 5c in question. According to the bureau, the time limitations of the initial warrants have lapsed, which is why the FBI seeks a new warrant from the court.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The geniuses at the FBI should just erect billboards in order to inform criminals and terrorists to upgrade to iPhones equipped with Secure Enclaves.

FBI paid professional hackers one-time fee to crack San Bernardino iPhone – April 13, 2016
FBI director confirms hack only works on older iPhones that lack Apple’s Secure Enclave – April 7, 2016


    1. Alternatively, this may simply be the FBI’s way of complying with the law that makes court filings accessible to the public except under circumstances inapplicable here. This wasn’t a press release; it is something that a reporter had to hunt for.

      As far as we can tell from the story, this was a perfectly routine request for a warrant that complied in every way with the requirements of the Constitution and the relevant statutes. Did you want the government to stop prosecuting murder cases after the Snowden revelations?

      They aren’t trying to force anybody to decrypt the phone or build in a back door. The FBI’s own techs have the hack from the San Bernardino case, so they can decrypt a 5c in house. They need a warrant to do that, and this shows that they got one. Far from tyranny, it shows that they are following the Constitution scrupulously in this case, whatever they may have done in the past.

      1. Thanks – I thought it was a press release. My mistake. We are sensitive about the subject these days – any report to gather readers. Last year this wouldn’t have made the news.

  1. Tyranny by any other name. This government is dangerous and reckless. They would damage encryption for everybody to solve a few crimes.

    Wait for the crime overflow once they legislate encryption away. Of course, they will have access to “official government encryption” because they a like important and stuff.

    I am beginning to hate this country.

    1. I love my country. But we have an incredibly self-destructive government. Various forces have been forcing it in that direction. If we simply kept to our US Constitution we’d be doing A LOT better than the stupidity, if not treason, we’re encountering right now.

  2. “…a seized iPhone 5c involved in a murder investigation…”

    Colonel Mustard. In the library.

    Isn’t this the same model phone that Farook used for work? The one that the FBI ‘urgently’ needed Apple’s assistance for only to be told to shove it up their bum? The one the FBI ostensibly claims it had obtained a method of getting into? Why is it that can they now not reproduce the previous claimed results?

    Oh, that’s right, it is that they somehow miraculously can’t now.

    So now, because Obama DoJ has pissed in its own bed, the FBI is going to work with its own ‘forensics lab’ to obtain ‘results’. That’s a tidy little euphemism for ‘we don’t give a f*ck about the constitution’ when it comes to getting our way.

    Laws are for little people.

    Think of the children.

    1. I assume the phone belongs to a suspect in a murder investigation. Which means they still need a warrant to do anything with his phone if it’s not covered by other legal means. They do not want to work with Apple, but with their own cyber lab — presumably, to use the method used for Farook’s phone. Previous warrants had lapsed, because they first wanted to see what comes out of the Apple v FBI re Farook’s phone.

      In short: Nothing to see here. Move along. Business as usual. (though it’s good that such dealings are published.)

      1. Exactly! A law enforcement agency applied to a magistrate for a search warrant. An everyday occurrence in the USA since before it became the USA. They followed the Fourth Amendment and law exactly as they were supposed to. They will decrypt it themselves, so there are none of the troubling third-party issues of the San Bernardino case. That is only tyranny to those who wish that the government would stop interfering with murderers.

    2. chinstrap,
      I am sure that you are an educated fellow, but your posting does not reflect that. Where in the US Constitution (or the Constitution of any other country) does it state that obtaining a warrant from a magistrate to search something for specific evidence of a crime is improper? That is exactly the procedure set out in the Fourth Amendment. This is not a case where they are trying to force an equipment manufacturer to develop a hack for their own devices. They will do the work themselves, in compliance with the orders of a court.

      I’m also sure you are a nice fellow, but your posting above made you sound like a sociopath—a person who has no human empathy whatsoever. Why NOT think of the children… of the murder victim in this case or of other crime victims, or children who may be victims themselves. You might regard (as I regard) their suffering in some cases as collateral damage from necessary efforts to preserve other people’s constitutional rights, but that does not make it something to joke about.

      This isn’t a game of Clue or Cluedo. There is a real human being named Jake Clyde Merendino with a life just as important as yours who was stabbed to death. If his killers are not convicted, they may go on to kill again. If killers as a class are not prosecuted, stabbing somebody to death will have no consequences. That may not bother you, but I think it would be dreadful for all of us.

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