The Justice Department Wants Apple to Unlock Another iPhone

Flickr user Håkan Dahlström

Same story, different case.

Once again, Apple has been ordered by a U.S. federal judge to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation unlock an iPhone—this time belonging to an alleged Boston gangster.

On Feb. 1, a magistrate ordered Apple to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to access the contents of an iPhone 6 Plus used by Desmond Crawford, who’s accused of shooting a rival gang member last year.

The order was unsealed Friday, a week and a half after the FBI said it had gained access to the iPhone 5C used by one of the San Bernardino shooters without Apple’s help. But FBI director James Comey revealed earlier this week that the technology it used, which waspurchased from a third-party firmwould not work on newer models.

The FBI believes Crawford’s iPhone 6 Plus, which was seized in February along with a second cell phone, contains incriminating messages about illicit activities as well as contact information for other gang members, associates, and drug customers. In a Feb. 1 affidavit, FBI agent Matthew Knight said “I…know that Crawford used his [iPhone] to discuss details related to the shooting of a rival gang member.”

Also earlier today, the Department of Justice submitted a new court filing saying it “continues to require Apple’s assistance in accessing the data” of an iPhone 5S in a New York drug case. A federal judge had previously denied the department’s request for a court order, noting it was an “unreasonable burden” for Apple.

One Apple-FBI showdown may be over, but the debate over encryption lives on. 

(Image via Flickr user Håkan Dahlström)

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