Apple served with warrant for Texas shooter’s iPhone and iCloud data


Texas Rangers have served Apple with a search warrant for data from deceased Sutherland Springs gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, who killed 26 people in a Texas church earlier this month.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the warrant covers files stored directly on an iPhone SE found near Kelley’s body, as well as files stored in his iCloud account. Law enforcement is apparently seeking phone call and message information, photos and videos, and other data dating back to January 1st, 2016. (Another warrant covers data on a second device, which court records identify as an LG feature phone.) The warrants were obtained on November 9th, two days after the FBI complained that encryption had prevented it from accessing the shooter’s phone.

Apple’s policies state that it will share iCloud data with law enforcement agencies if there’s a valid warrant. But depending on how frequently Kelley created backups using iCloud, there may be additional information on the phone itself, and Apple has previously fought requests to directly access devices. The company went to court last year to avoid unlocking a phone belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, until the FBI successfully hacked the phone without its help, rendering the case moot.

The FBI used the Sutherland Springs shooting to argue that strong encryption is hurting law enforcement’s ability to investigate crimes, saying it was “working very hard to get into the phone.” Later reports indicated that it did not reach out to Apple within a 48-hour period during which Kelley’s fingerprint might have unlocked the phone via Touch ID.