Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The FBI’s Tragic Mistakes in San Bernardino

Jonathan Zdziarski:

The fact that the device appears to have been found on, but later turned off (or allowed to die) is the second, and much bigger mistake made by the FBI. As I wrote in yet another post, allowing the phone to be powered down eliminated five more ways the FBI could have gotten data off of the device […]

Congress did not ask Comey about this, nor did they challenge Comey’s misleading statements about the iCloud backup being irrelevant to their investigation. Quite the contrary, both mistakes put together have now interfered with six different techniques the FBI had at their disposal to obtain evidence off of the device.

Just how much evidence tampering is required before Congress or the courts will throw this case out of court? Should we be setting a precedent to breathe such a dangerous forensics tool into existence for reasons that only exist because the FBI proved incompetent?

The FBI’s handling of the technological evidence they collected — and did not collect1 — betrays a mix of poor judgement and ignorance. They had six different opportunities to get the data they’re after, and they blew them all.


  1. “The Apple executive told reporters that the company’s engineers had first suggested to the government that it take the phone to the suspect’s apartment to connect it to the Wi-FI there. But since reporters and members of the public had swarmed that crime scene shortly after the shootings occurred, it was likely that any Wi-Fi there had been disconnected.” ↩︎