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Apple says it has no way to access data on devices with a passcode running iOS 8 or later

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Reuters today reports that Apple has informed a federal judge that it has no way of accessing data that is stored on an iPhone that is locked with a passcode and running iOS 8 or later. Apple revealed this information in a court filing recently in response to the U.S. Justice Department asking if the company would help authorities access data on a seized iPhone.

 Apple cites strengthened encryption methods in iOS 8 and later for its inability to access data on a locked iPhone. The company noted that more than 90 percent of iOS devices now run a version of the operating system that’s iOS 8 or newer.

Apple said that while it could technically access data stored on the 10 percent of iOS devices running older versions of the operating system, it’s not something it would do without clear legal authority. Apple cited its relationship with customers as its primary reasoning for not wanting to access data on locked devices:

“Forcing Apple to extract data in this case, absent clear legal authority to do so, could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand.”

A hearing is expected to take place on Friday regarding this case. The hearing will determine whether or not Apple can be forced to help the government in following through on a search warrant. Just yesterday, Tim Cook spoke out against software backdoors, again voicing Apple’s support for privacy for its customers.

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  1. alfredprunesquallor - 7 years ago

    You tell ’em Tim. I don’t necessarily believe it, but I appreciate the sentiment.

    • mashdots - 7 years ago

      Why don’t you believe it?

      • alfredprunesquallor - 7 years ago

        No one builds a system without a back door. The only variable is the number of keys.

  2. kplayaja - 7 years ago


  3. Jake Becker - 7 years ago

    Stand your ground Tim

  4. “inability to access data on a locked iPhone”. That doesn’t include data stored in iCloud, does it? I know messages and keychain are encrypted well, but what about pictures, documents, app data etc? Does anybody know more about this?

  5. This is one of the areas where others should get their inspiration although I know for example Google’s whole business model would crash without collecting everything about their users.

  6. Jason Corbine - 7 years ago

    And this is why I am, and as long as this policy continues, will always be an Apple customer. If there’s a backdoor to allow Apple or the government into your phone then there’s a door anyone can eventually learn to exploit. The FBI, the CIA, the police, all have other legal valid and open to public inspection judicial review methods of gaining access to a phone.

    If the phone’s owner is ordered by a court to provide the passcode and refuses is that not protected by the right not to incriminate yourself under the US Constitution? And if the Supreme Court rules that it is not protected then they can be jailed for that indefinitely for contempt of court until they comply with the order.

    This need for a backdoor to protect citizens from “threats” is nonsense. It’s a smoke screen being used by governments to justify violating our civil rights. The Bush administration did this after 9/11 when they used terrorists and “threats” to terrify people into giving up rights under the patriot act. People have finally woken up to that nonsense and so they’re trying to spook and smokescreen us again. And the heads of law enforcement agencies that have used the hypothetical missing child case to justify this should be ASHAMED. Not a single, not a SINGLE, case of a missing child has EVER ended badly because the government could not access a locked cellphone. Ever. Period. The one case they have tried to troop out as proof has been proven to be a lie. And stop and think about that, ONE case they could even come close to and they had to lie and twist the facts to get to that.

  7. realgurahamu - 7 years ago

    The government even dont have the legal presedence to even request such a thing – just like it is against the law to force a person to unlock their device for police – self incrimination laws designed to protect the rights of the defendant’s defence

  8. acjeffers - 7 years ago

    Uh. Sure.


Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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