San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook drove around for 18 minutes with his wife after they left the holiday party, where they shot and killed 14 people. The FBI gleaned more information about what exactly happened in that time gap, thanks to the locked iPhone 5C the shooter left behind.
It’s the iPhone that was locked in a month-long legal battle between Apple and the Justice Department, as Apple refused a court order to create special code to provide access into the phone. The Cupertino company feared that doing so would allow a backdoor into all iPhones, if the tool fell into the wrong hands, which would threaten the security and privacy of all its customers.
The FBI dropped the case after third-party hackers it paid managed to unlock the phone. U.S. law enforcement officials say the phone did not have any evidence that the two shooters made contact with other ISIS supporters, nor that they used encrypted communications during the time gap, according to CNN.
No evidence is still good news for the FBI, as it puts to bed theories the bureau couldn’t abandon just because it couldn’t get into the phone.
Apple did provide data from the linked iCloud account, and other information that wasn’t stored on the device, but one of Apple’s arguments against creating a tool that would weaken the security measure on the phone was that any information would be of little use. But the FBI needed to make sure that was true, and found that there indeed was no data on the device they didn’t have before.
The FBI’s initial fight with Apple sparked a war over the use of encryption. Law enforcement officials are having trouble getting into more and more devices as they are now encrypted by default, and have been proposing anti-encryption legislation. An overwhelming amount of tech, legal, cryptography, and cybersecurity experts say doing so would only threaten the security and privacy of the general public.
Two U.S. senators introduced a bill that looks to penalize companies that do not comply with court orders that request access into encrypted services and devices, but the Obama administration has said it will likely not support any anti-encryption legislation.
It’s still unknown what exactly happened during those 18 minutes after the shooting took place in San Bernardino.