ACLU Files Lawsuit Against FBI For More Information About Its Phone-Unlocking Capabilities

The American Civil Liberties (ACLU) is suing Apple for more information about the FBI’s phone-hacking and unlocking capabilities. 

ACLU filed a lawsuit against the technology company demanding to be given more information about the FBI’s Electronic Device Analysis Unit (EDAU), a forensic unit the ACLU claims has been silently breaking the iPhone’s local encryption systems, Russell Brandom, of The Verge writes. “The FBI is secretly breaking the encryption that secures our cell phones and laptops from identity thieves, hackers, and abusive governments,” the ACLU said in a statement announcing the lawsuit, “and it refuses to even acknowledge that it has information about these efforts.”

The legal document highlights a number of cases that involve the FBI submitting a “Mobile Device Unlock Request” and receiving data from a previously locked phone. Additionally, the EDAU has put out public requests for the GrayKEy devices that found success unlocking a previous version of iOS, The Verge reports. 

The FBI has made a few public statements about the EDAU, but ACLU’s latest move stems from its first attempt to access information about it back in 2018. In June 2018, the ACLU filed a FOIA request for records related to the EDAU, but the FBI refused to acknowledge any records’ existence. A few FOIA appeals later, the group decided to take the issue to federal court, calling on the attorney general and FBI inspector general to step in and make the records publicly available. 

“We’re demanding the government release records concerning any policies applicable to the EDAU, its technological capabilities to unlock or access electronic devices, and its requests for, purchases of, or uses of software that could enable it to bypass encryption,” the ACLU said in a statement.

There is no clear confirmation on whether or not the FBI actually can break into iOS encryption; however, the FBI has taken issue with protection systems and has urged the company to create a backdoor entrance for its system. 

 

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