According to a source that spoke to Reuters, the FBI did not contact Apple for about 48 hours after the shooting, missing a critical window where the iPhone in question might have been easier to unlock.
If the iPhone had Touch ID enabled, the shooter’s finger might have been able to be used to unlock the device. But that unlocking method would have needed to be used within a 48 hour window, as Touch ID is disabled after 48 hours have passed since it was last activated or when the iPhone is powered off.
Christopher Combs, head of the FBI’s San Antonio field office, said on Tuesday that the shooter’s smartphone is being transferred to the FBI’s crime lab in Quantico, Virginia as authorities have not been able to unlock it.
Little is known about the shooter’s smartphone at this time. Sources told the Washington Post that it’s an iPhone, but it’s not known which iPhone it is nor which version of iOS it’s running. It’s also not known if Touch ID was indeed enabled on the phone at this point.
As we learned with the San Bernardino case, Apple will not provide authorities with the tools to unlock the iPhone, but the company can and will provide iCloud data if compelled by court order. It is not known if Apple has already received a court order asking for iCloud information.
Update: Apple has provided a statement on the situation with the smartphone owned by the Texas shooter.
We were shocked and saddened by the violence in Texas last Sunday, and we join the world in grieving for the families and the community that lost so many loved ones.
Our team immediately reached out to the FBI after learning from their press conference on Tuesday that investigators were trying to access a mobile phone. We offered assistance and said we would expedite our response to any legal process they send us.
We work with law enforcement every day. We offer training to thousands of agents so they understand our devices and how they can quickly request information from Apple.
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