Law Enforcement agencies have always had trouble retrieving data off passcode enabled iPhone’s, and therefore turn to Apple’s assistance for help on bypassing the code. Apparently, Apple receives so many police requests to decrypt and unlock seized iPhones, that it has created a “waiting list” to handle the demand.
As reported by CNET, an agent at ATF contacted Apple to obtain assistance in unlocking the device, but was placed on a waiting list by the company. The agent had previously searched for months trying to find ” a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency with the forensic capabilities to unlock” an iPhone 4S. Once placed on the waiting list, the agent was told there would be at least a seven week delay.
The ATF’s Rob Maynard said in an affidavit for the Kentucky case that Apple “has the capabilities to bypass the security software” and “download the contents of the phone to an external memory device.” Chang, the Apple legal specialist, told him that “once the Apple analyst bypasses the passcode, the data will be downloaded onto a USB external drive” and delivered to the ATF.
It’s not clear whether that means Apple has created a backdoor for police — which has been the topic of speculation in the past — whether the company has custom hardware that’s faster at decryption, or whether it simply is more skilled at using the same procedures available to the government. Apple declined to discuss its law enforcement policies when contacted this week by CNET.