Prosecutors are successfully accessing data from more than 100 locked phones seized during arrests on Inauguration Day, according to court papers filed yesterday. The phones belonged to those accused of rioting in Washington DC.

The government is in the process of extracting data from the Rioter Cell Phones pursuant to lawfully issued search warrants, and expects to be in a position to produce all of the data from the searched Rioter Cell Phones in the next several weeks. (All of the Rioter Cell Phones were locked, which requires more time-sensitive efforts to try to obtain the data.)

The filing is, however, vague in two respects. Although one reading of it could be taken to mean that it is able to access every phone seized – which would statistically include a high proportion of iPhones – an alternative interpretation would be that it refers only to phones already ‘searched.’ It’s notable that there were approximately 230 arrests while the court order specifies phones from ‘more than 100’ defendants.

Second, while the wording implies extracting data from the devices themselves, it is possible that the language used could also cover serving warrants on Apple to release iCloud backups, which is an established way for authorities to access data stored on iPhones.

Buzzfeed notes that a number of motions have been filed by defendants, including motions to dismiss based on lack of evidence tying individuals to specific acts of rioting.

Photo: ABC News

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel

About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear