In a move that mirrors Apple's legal tussle with the Federal Bureau of Investigation last year when it asked for help unlocking an iPhone that belonged to the San Bernardino shooter, Apple has been served yet again with a similar warrant, and it asks for the same thing: access to a shooter's iPhone.
The phone in question is an iPhone SE, which belonged to the man responsible for killing 26 people in a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas earlier this November.
Texas Rangers Hand Apple Warrant To Access Shooter's iPhone
As detailed in a Fast Company report, the Texas Rangers has served Apple with a warrant to access the shooter's iPhone plus his iCloud account, though it's unclear if he has one. The Texas Rangers also wants access to a second handset the shooter used, an LG feature phone.
Apple stated previously that it contacted law enforcement 48 hours after the shooting to ask whether it could be of any assistance. During those hours, when Touch ID would have still been enabled, officials didn't approach or respond to Apple for help, sending the phone to a forensics lab in Quantico, Virginia instead to obtain its contents.
When the forensics lab couldn't crack it, Texas Rangers filed the warrant in question, dated Nov. 9. Had they bothered to ask Apple for help, as Fast Company points out, they would have been able access the phone using the shooter's fingerprint after he was shot dead by the police.
Will Apple Allow It?
Now, Apple may never give them access at all given how things look. It stood its ground in its tussle with the FBI, essentially telling the bureau "hell no!" Majority of the public sided with Apple. The company's argument is that if it were to create a hacking tool that could bypass an iPhone's encryption, it would potentially endanger the security of all iPhones. Ultimately, the FBI sought help from the outside to unlock the phone with an iPhone hacking tool, but they found nothing of importance.
Apple has yet to respond to the warrant by the Texas Rangers, but expect its reaction to be similar to that of its response to the San Bernardino case. Privacy is a touchy issue for the company, even more so when law enforcement and authorities are involved. In fairness to Apple, its persistence to protect the security of its products is reasonable.
What do you make of this situation? Should Apple assist the Texas Rangers in unlocking the shooter's iPhone? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!