San Bernardino Says FBI at Fault for Losing Data in Shooting Investigation

The FBI reportedly asked San Bernardino County officials to tamper with the iCloud account of one of the suspected shooters in last December’s attack, in an effort that ultimately failed—making it impossible to know if there were other ways of recovering encrypted information without taking Apple to court.

Late Saturday night, San Bernardino officials contradicted the FBI’s claims as to who was at fault for a bungled effort at recovering Syed Farook’s private data from six weeks before the attack, stating that it complied with the agency’s orders to reset Farook’s iCloud password.

That effort only worked to prevent an auto-backup of the data the FBI sought, rendering the information “permanently inaccessible.”

Apple executives said that means there may have been a way to avoid the momentous privacy battle currently underway between the tech company and the government.

The Washington Post reports:


The FBI admitted this mistake in a legal filing late Friday night, but deflected blame away from the agency, stating, “the owner [San Bernardino County], in an attempt to gain access to some information in the hours after the attack, was able to reset the password remotely, but that had the effect of eliminating the possibility of an auto-backup…”

But a Twitter account associated with San Bernardino County said otherwise.


“The County was working cooperatively with the FBI when it reset the iCloud password at the FBI’s request.”

Wert added, “[t]he county said we could get to the information on the cloud if we changed the password or had Apple change the password.”

“The FBI asked us to do that, and we did,” he said.

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