FBI Unlocks Pensacola Shooter’s iPhones as Barr Slams Apple

The US attorney general has again attacked Apple for its stance on device encryption even as he revealed that FBI investigators had managed to access a deceased terrorist’s iPhones.

At a press conference to announce updates to the investigation into fatal shootings at Pensacola Naval Air Station, William Barr, claimed the “relentless efforts and ingenuity of FBI technicians” had helped reveal more about Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani’s ties to Al Qaeda.

However, he couldn’t resist doubling down on long-standing government criticism of Silicon Valley over encryption.

“Apple made a business and marketing decision to design its phones in such a way that only the user can unlock the contents no matter the circumstances,” Barr argued.

“In cases like this, where the user is a terrorist, or in other cases, where the user is a violent criminal, human trafficker, or child predator, Apple’s decision has dangerous consequences for public safety and national security and is, in my judgment, unacceptable.”

Barr again repeated the belief, roundly debunked by the world’s leading encryption experts, that “there is no reason why companies like Apple cannot design their consumer products and apps to allow for court-authorized access by law enforcement while maintaining very high standards of data security.”

In fact, it is widely believed in security circles that if Apple or any tech firm engineered de facto backdoors into their products, the information would eventually end up on the cybercrime underground, undermining security for hundreds of millions of legitimate users.

The Cupertino giant hit back at Barr’s suggestion it had not been any help in the investigation, claiming that it provided iCloud backups, account info and other information on Alshamrani to the FBI.

“The false claims made about our company are an excuse to weaken encryption and other security measures that protect millions of users and our national security,” it continued in a statement.

“It is because we take our responsibility to national security so seriously that we do not believe in the creation of a backdoor — one which will make every device vulnerable to bad actors who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers.”

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