That said, while the service was actually paid for, the shooter never installed it onto his smartphone.
As the battle between the U.S. Justice Department and Apple Inc. raged on over the mobile security of an iPhone that had been used by one of the shooters in San Bernardino, California, it was revealed that a software to unlock the device had actually been purchased by the deceased criminal but had never been installed.
The feature the shooter had purchased would have provided the FBI with access to the device.
The mobile security software and service had already been paid for by the county government that actually owned the iPhone. However, just because it was purchased, it didn’t automatically become active. The application needed to be installed into the smartphone and it never was. Had it been installed, the Federal Bureau of Investigation would have been able to quickly and easily unlock the smartphone as a legal part of this terror investigation. The phone had been used by one of the shooters who opened fire on a holiday party in early December, last year.
The mobile security and privacy issue has now escalated to a tremendous court battle and it turns out it was avoidable.
The service cost about $4 per month and would have made it possible for the FBI to unlock the phone, themselves, instead of requiring Apple to do it and bringing on a controversial argument that is putting national security concerns in direct opposition to digital privacy rights and freedoms.
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Without installing the software on the iPhone, the only person who is able to unlock the device is the person who knew the original passcode. In this case, it happens to be one of the gunmen from the San Bernardino shooting, Syed Farook, and he was killed in a shootout that ensued after fourteen dead and twenty two seriously-injured partygoers.
Moreover, the iPhone used by Farook was also not equipped with the additional Touch ID mobile security feature from Apple. This meant that the FBI were also unable to use the thumbprint of the deceased shooter in order to be able to unlock the smartphone and determine whether or not it could be used as evidence in this case.