Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower, has said the FBI is capable of breaking into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters despite its claims that only Apple has the power to do so
“The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the phone. Respectfully, that’s bullshit,” Snowden said.
He made the claims while speaking over a video link at the Common Cause Blueprint for a Great Democracy conference in Washington DC. Snowden later elaborated on his claims through a tweet linking to the blog of a technology expert.
“The global technological consensus is against the FBI,” he wrote. “Why? Here's one example: [link]”.
The expert in question, Daniel Kahn Gillmor, said that the FBI could access the phone without Apple, the implication being that it was choosing to make it a legal matter with Apple in order to set a legal precedent that it would benefit from in the future.
“The truth is that even if this feature is enabled on the device in question, the FBI doesn't need to worry about it, because they can already bypass it by backing up part of the phone (called the “Effaceable Storage”) before attempting to guess the passcode,” he said.
Gillmor later elaborated on other techniques that could be used to access the data although he admitted that these were relatively expensive and risked damaging the device, but that they had worked numerous times in the past.
Snowden, and other big players in the technology sector such as Google and Facebook, have openly supported Apple in its fight against the FBI.
The FBI wants Apple to make a new version of the iPhone operating system in order to circumvent its security features in order to gain access to the data within.
But Apple has refused, saying that complying would set a dangerous precedent for privacy and could compromise the security of all iPhones if the software was to get into the wrong hands.