The FBI said it would try to help local law enforcement agencies to open locked phones and other devices in an advisory on Friday.
“As has been our long-standing policy, the FBI will of course consider any tool that might be helpful to our partners,” the agency told local authorities in a letter, the Wall Street Journal reported. “Please know that we will continue to do everything we can to help you consistent with our legal and policy constraints.’’
The message was issued in response to a surge in interest from state and local authorities after the FBI was able to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters without the assistance of Apple. The agency unlocked the San Bernardino iPhone with the help of a third party, temporarily ending a legal battle with Apple that sparked a heated debate about security and privacy.
“That method for unlocking that specific iPhone proved successful,’’ the FBI said in its advisory, according to the Journal. It said it was aware that the difficulty of accessing locked data in criminal probes “is a substantial state and local law-enforcement challenge that you face daily.’’
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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com