A curious game of finger pointing is starting to unfold as more details are revealed about the FBI's attempts to access the contents of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook's iPhone.
On Friday night, a Twitter account belonging to San Bernardino county said officials were "working cooperatively with the FBI when it reset the iCloud password at the FBI's request." When asked to comment further, San Bernardino county told Tech Insider that the "tweet is accurate and the FBI will verify."
The County was working cooperatively with the FBI when it reset the iCloud password at the FBI's request.
The County was working cooperatively with the FBI when it reset the iCloud password at the FBI's request.— CountyWire (@CountyWire) February 20, 2016
Here's why finding out who actually reset Farook's iCloud password and why they did so is such a big deal for the case and Apple's involvement.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a motion on Friday afternoon accusing Apple of not complying with the FBI's request to create a back door into Farook's iPhone purely because the company wants to maintain a good public image as a privacy advocate.
Apple quickly fired back during a conference call with reporters on Friday and dropped a bombshell: that it had been cooperating with the FBI for months to access the iPhone's contents without creating a back door and that it was just now being publicly pressured to do so. Apple also insinuated that it could have accessed iCloud backups of Farook's iPhone had the password to his account not been reset while in the possession of San Bernardino county.
Accessing the iCloud backup, as Apple has helped law enforcement do in past cases, would have kept Apple from needing to create the modified version of its operating system the FBI is now requesting. Apple's argument is that creating such a back door could open up the possibility of it being used as "master key" by law enforcement for hacking into other iPhones in the future.
The DoJ filing on Friday says that multiple attempts to access the iPhone's contents were made with Apple's help over the last couple of months. It also revealed that a San Bernardino official reset the iPhone's password "in an attempt to gain access to some information in the hours after the attack."
But now that San Bernardino is saying that the FBI told them to reset the password, it looks like the FBI's negligence in handling the case's evidence is to blame.
The FBI and Apple did not respond to requests for comment.