Apple has hit back after US Attorney General William Barr accused the company of offering no assistance in unlocking devices linked to the Pensacola shooter, insisting that it handed the FBI large troves of data for its probe.
Barr told reporters on Monday that Apple had not “given any substantive assistance” to law enforcement agencies looking to crack into a pair of smartphones owned by the shooter – who left 4 people dead on a Florida naval base in December – but the company directly countered the AG in a statement.
“We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation,” the tech giant said, adding that it had responded to the FBI’s requests for help “promptly, often within hours.”
The queries resulted in many gigabytes of information that we turned over to investigators. In every instance, we responded with all of the information that we had.
Apple previously went head-to-head with the FBI in lengthy legal battle over a similar phone-cracking case related to the 2016 terror attack in San Bernardino, in which the company refused to provide the bureau a ‘backdoor’ into one of the attacker’s phones.
Though Apple still maintains “there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys,” the company has become more willing to engage with law enforcers in recent years, announcing in 2018 that it would create a special police “portal” allowing officers to request data.
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Despite its attitude on encryption, the company’s devices have also been found to contain inadvertent ‘backdoors’ of a sort, with fears of spying triggered last year after a curious microphone glitch popped up, allowing callers to hear recipients speak before they answered the phone. Last August, it was also revealed that company contractors were granted access to customers’ private conversations through Siri, the AI assistant program, a practice Apple says it has since ended.
The company turned heads more recently when it confirmed that it scans all images stored in its cloud service for evidence of “child abuse,” prompting some critics to slam the company for violating user privacy.
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