Attorney General William Barr requested Apple’s help to extract data from two iPhones that belonged to the Saudi aviation student that fatally shot three US soldiers at a Pensacola naval base last month, reported The Verge.
Barr updated the situation on Monday during a press conference and said Apple had provided no "substantive assistance" in supporting investigators with the unlocking of the smartphones.
"We have asked Apple for their help in unlocking the shooter's phones. So far, Apple has not given any substantive assistance," said Barr. "This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that the public be able to get access to digital evidence once it has obtained a court order based on probable cause. We call on Apple on other technology companies to help us find a solution so that we can better protect the lives of American people and prevent future attacks."
In an email to The Verge, Apple rejects Barr's statement that it hasn't provided the proper assistance in the Pensacola naval base investigation. It said:
"Within hours of the FBI's first request on December 6th, we produced a wide variety of information associated with the investigation. From December 7th through the 14th, we received six additional legal requests and in response provided information including iCloud backups, account information and transactional data for multiple accounts.
We responded to each request promptly, often within hours, sharing information with FBI offices in Jacksonville, Pensacola and New York. The queries resulted in many gigabytes of information that we turned over to investigators. In every instance, we responded with all of the information that we had."
Apple notes that the FBI has asked for more assistance:
"The FBI only notified us on January 6th that they needed additional assistance - a month after the attack occurred. Only then did we learn about the existence of a second iPhone associated with the investigation and the FBI's inability to access either iPhone. It was not until January 8th that we received a subpoena for information related to the second iPhone, which we responded to within hours."
Apple also said their engineers were in communication with the FBI to "provide additional technical assistance," but there was no mention of what that meant.
Apple and other Silicon Valley tech companies have routinely been ordered by the FBI to provide digital keys to unlock encrypted data of customers, and this has been met with fierce resistance from those companies.