The FBI has begun telling some U.S. Senators how it accessed the data on San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone 5c, according to The National Journal (via CNET). Previously, the FBI has been coy on how it accessed the data on the phone and hasn’t communicated the exploit used to Apple.
California Senator Diane Feinstein, the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, confirmed to CNET that she was briefed on the method used by the FBI. North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been invited to an FBI briefing but has not yet accepted, according to The National Journal. The two Senators are co-sponsors on a bill that would force companies to comply with court orders to unlock encrypted communication services.
That bill is reportedly set to be introduced to Congress as soon as this week, and both Burr and Feinstein told The National Journal that the FBI should not tell Apple how it accessed the data on Syed Farook’s iPhone.
“I don’t believe the government has any obligation to Apple,” Feinstein said in a statement emailed to the National Journal. “No company or individual is above the law, and I’m dismayed that anyone would refuse to help the government in a major terrorism investigation.”
When the FBI first mentioned that it had found a “possible method” to obtain the data from the iPhone, Apple said that it would insist on obtaining the details of the exploit should the government pursue its case against the Cupertino company. However, since the case was dropped, there is little legal recourse for Apple to attain that information. The FBI reportedly turned to Israeli firm Cellebrite to unlock the phone. Shortly after the Justice Department dropped the case, Apple issued a statement saying it would “continue to increase the security” of its products.
Yesterday, FBI general counsel James Baker said that the data on the iPhone was being analyzed and that it was “simply too soon to tell” whether the information is valuable.
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