Apple reached out to help, but critical time could have been lost.
For nearly two days after the deadly shooting at a Texas church, the FBI struggled to unlock the attacker's iPhone and refused to ask Apple for help, it has transpired. Instead, the FBI sent the phone to a crime lab.
During a recent press conference, FBI agent Christopher Combs complained about not having access to the shooter's phone due to not being able to unlock it. The press conference suggested that important information such as motivations and co-conspirators could be unobtainable without access to the phone. Despite the FBI's struggle, though, it didn't ask Apple for help.
"Our team immediately reached out to the FBI after learning from their press conference on Tuesday that investigators were trying to access a mobile phone. We offered assistance and said we would expedite our response to any legal process they send us," Apple said in a statement.
The FBI's hesitation to contact Apple will complicate the process. If agents had contacted Apple within 48 hours, assuming the shooter unlocked his phone using his fingerprint, the FBI could have still used his finger to unlock the device. However, due to the iPhone's security features, it's now too late to use this method and the FBI will now need to go through the courts to access to phone's contents, according to Business Insider.
This is not the first time the FBI has criticized Apple's devices. In fact, the FBI took Apple to court over access to an iPhone related to the shooting in San Bernardino in 2016 in which 14 people were killed. The court case was dropped as the FBI was able to access the content on its own.