Texas shooter’s phone still locked, Apple may have offered help

In a scenario that could reinvigorate the battle between law enforcement and tech companies over access to data locked on smartphones, the FBI hasn't yet broken the phone belonging to a gunman who went on a shooting rampage in a Texas church, killing 26 and wounding 24.

In a new development Apple pushed back against an FBI statement that due to the smartphone industry's encryption standard it could not get into the shooter's iPhone saying that it had in fact reached out and offered suggestions on how to open the phone, according to Buzzfeed.

Law enforcement officials refused to release the make and model of the phone because, FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs told reporters, “because I don't want to tell every bad guy out there what phone to buy.”

Combs said that “With the advance of the technology and the phones and the encryptions, law enforcement — whether that's at the state, local or federal level — is increasingly not able to get into these phones.”

In early 2015 the FBI and Apple were spoiling for a fight in what promised to be an epic battle between privacy and government overreach. No sooner had the two suited up and laced their gloves, than the battle fizzled out after the FBI used a third party to crack the iPhone 5C used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook that was at the heart of the controversy. 

Soon after, another high-profile case involving access to an iPhone – as part of a drug investigation in Brooklyn – came to a screeching halt when authorities got the password for that phone from an outside party.

Despite those positive turns of event, Apple and other tech companies couldn't take off on their victory lap - the debate at the center of the Apple-FBI dust-up is still brewing, though it has been on the backburner until the Texas shooting. 

Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.