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The FBI is briefing senators on how it cracked the iPhone's passcode

Engadget Engadget 6/04/2016 Nathan Ingraham
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Last month, the FBI dropped its court case compelling Apple to unlock an iPhone 5c that was part of an investigation into a terrorist attack in San Bernardino after figuring out how to hack into it without Apple's help. But the agency has thus far kept its mouth shut about how exactly it managed to bypass the phone's passcode and auto-erase features. According to the National Journal, however, a few high-ranking government officials are being briefed on the FBI's techniques. (A subscription is required for the National Journal, but you can see the related text from the story here.) Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) reportedly had a meeting with the agency in which it detailed how it got into the locked iPhone; Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) was offered a similar meeting but hasn't taken it just yet.

The briefings of Feinstein and Burr are likely no coincidence -- both senators are working on an anti-encryption bill that would limit the technology's usage in consumer products like the iPhone. How the FBI's unlocking of the iPhone 5c and its meetings with the two senators will play into the bill remains to be seen, but Feinstein at the very least supports the FBI on its position of secrecy. Last week, she said that the agency shouldn't have to tell Apple about the methods it used to hack into the iPhone 5c.

Apple, for its part, is rightfully curious as to how the FBI managed to bypass the passcode screen lock that the company encourages all users to enable. The company likely wants to know if the exploit the FBI uses is unique to the iPhone 5c or if it can be used on other devices, including the newer iPhone 6 and 6s devices that have stronger encryption standards. It doesn't seem like those details will be forthcoming any time soon, however.

National Journal (subscription required)

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