100 locked phones seized during arrests at anti-Trump protests, there is being extracted, according to court papers.
Hacking the phones:
According to court papers filed Wednesday, 100 locked phones were seized during arrests made in Washington, DC on Inauguration Day. Prosecutors are trying to pull data from them.
According to a BuzzFeed report, 214 individuals arrested on felony rioting charges related to demonstrations protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20 had their phones seized by law enforcement officers. Prosecutors said they have search warrants to extract data from the phones
Even though the phones are locked prosecutors have successfully copied data from them, as per the filing, although it doesn’t describe the methods. In the filing, prosecutors stated that they expect to “produce all of the data from the searched [phones] in the next several weeks.”
Tech companies vs. the government:
Tech companies and policy makers have been engaging in a war of words over encryption. Policy makers believe that terrorist groups are benefiting from encryption, which is a technology that jumbles communications and files so that only the intended recipient can read them. Tech companies have become increasingly attentive about adding encryption in products and services after documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the US government surveillance programs.
After the December 2015 attack that left 14 people dead, Apple found itself in the middle of a legal back-and-forth with the government who wanted Apple to write a backdoor to unlock the phone and make its data readable. Apple refused, saying that weakening the encryption would leave the rest iPhone users at risk.
However, in March 2016, the Department of Justice said an unnamed outside party helped agents break into an iPhone 5C that was used by shooter Syed Farook, but wouldn’t disclose exactly how the hacker got into the phone.
Personal information irrelevant to the charges is among the data extracted from protesters’ phones. Which is why prosecutors are requesting a court order to prohibit defense lawyers from copying or reproducing information unless it’s relevant to the defense of their client.