FBI Serves Apple a Search Warrant To Unlock Texas Church Gunman’s Phone

Gearing up for what seems to be the round 2 of more legal headlocks with Apple, the FBI served a search warrant to the tech titans to unlock the Texas Church’s iPhone, just as it attempted a year ago to gain access to the San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone.  The case finally resolved itself with the FBI finding a workaround into the phone with the help of a third-party.

On Sunday, November 5, the gunman now identified as Devin Kelley walked into a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and murdered in cold blood 26 people, including elderlies and children. His motives for the mass murders remaining unclear, the FBI wants access to Kelley’s iPhone data to determine whether he has links to militant groups or acted alone.

The FBI forensics lab in Virginia has attempted to break into Kelley’s iPhone connect without success and as a results  have served Apple with a search warrant (dated November 9) demanding access to Kelley’s iPhone SE. The warrant also requests access to a second phone used by Kelley–an LG old model phone.

It turns out that following the FBI, November 6 press conference where it announced that it had been unable to break into the killer’s phone, Apple contacted the agency and offered to help. An Apple representative said in a statement:

“Our team immediately reached out to the FBI after learning from their press conference on Tuesday that investigators were trying to access a mobile phone. We offered assistance and said we would expedite our response to any legal process they send us.”

Why the FBI and the local police department didn’t take them up on their offer at that time remains a mystery. But perhaps not. At the time of the San Bernardino incident, the FBI made its case for Apple and other smartphones makers to install a “backdoor” for police to easily have access to phones, which was met with an unequivocal negative response from Apple.

Apple said during the San Bernardino court case that creating a hack to bypass the encryption of an iPhone would potentially endanger the security of all iPhones on the market. And this could be one the reasons, in the Texas murder case,  the Rangers and the FBI didn’t even bother speaking to Apple before issuing a search warrant.  Apple hasn’t released a statement yet in response to the Texas warrant, but if the past tells a story, the company is most likely going to respond to this warrant as it did with the San Bernardino’s.

Will this dispute also escalate to court or will Apple and the FBI work together?

Representatives for Apple and the FBI have not returned a request for comments at the time of publishing.

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