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FBI Offers Aid In Unlocking Phones To Local Law Enforcement

FBI issue advisory to local law enforcement in the continued pursuit of national security

Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty Images

An FBI advisory was issued by FBI officials on Friday. Said advisory was obtained in response to law enforcement inquiring about the technique used to infiltrate a terrorist’s iPhone 5C belonging to one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attack on December 2015.

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“In mid-March, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking the iPhone,” The message reads. “That method for unlocking that specific iPhone proved successful.”

The Advisory does not state that the mentioned method will be used to unlock phones for local authorities, but the agency did state that they “will of course consider any tool that might be helpful to our partners.”

Though the dispatch does not explicitly state if the FBI will use the mysterious third-party method to unlock phones for local authorities, officials said the agency “will of course consider any tool that might be helpful to our partners.”

However, the third party responsible for demonstrating the exploit was not revealed, although there is speculation on who it might be and the methods they may have used.
The full advisory sent to local law enforcement can be found below:
Since recovering an iPhone from one of the San Bernardino shooters on December 3, 2015, the FBI sought methods to gain access to the data stored on it. As the FBI continued to conduct its own research, and as a result of the worldwide publicity and attention generated by the litigation with Apple, others outside the U.S. government continued to contact the U.S. government offering avenues of possible research. In mid-March, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking the iPhone. That method for unlocking that specific iPhone proved successful.

We know that the absence of lawful, critical investigative tools due to the “Going Dark” problem is a substantial state and local law enforcement challenge that you face daily. As has been our longstanding policy, the FBI will of course consider any tool that might be helpful to our partners. Please know that we will continue to do everything we can to help you consistent with our legal and policy constraints. You have our commitment that we will maintain an open dialogue with you. We are in this together.

Kerry Sleeper
Assistant Director
Office of Partner Engagement
FBI

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