According to a report from The Guardian, the FBI has made access requests that the Chinese government hasn’t even asked for. An Apple executive released the information in a statement as the company resists a court order to help crack the passcode for a phone that was used by a San Bernardino shooter.
The company’s executive said that the FBI’s request was never asked for by any other country, specifically mentioning China. The executive also said that Apple will be adding more security features to their products in the future, which would presumably make it even more difficult for law enforcement to access data on these devices.
According to Apple, the Apple ID password on the iPhone was changed “less than 24 hours” after being in government hands. Had the password not been altered, Apple believes the backup information the government is asking for could have been accessible to Apple engineers.
The FBI has said it has access to weekly iCloud backups leading up to October 19, but not after that date, and it is seeking later information that could be stored on the device. Apple executives said the entire backdoor demand could have potentially been avoided if the Apple ID password not been changed. The FBI wants a version of iOS that accepts electronic passcode input and removes passcode features like time limits and data erasure following failures.
This week, the FBI said that they can’t force Apple to give up the passcode, partly because it would be near impossible for even Apple to obtain it, but they came up with a clever workaround. The FBI persuaded the judge to order Apple to make it easier for them to guess the passcode.
Apple later acknowledged that the workaround could be applied to any iPhone, however authorities would have to get a warrant for each case.