In response to a question about emergency situations posed today at a House committee hearing, Apple's General Counsel said the company assisted in a search following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Apple says it has "emergency procedures" in place
At the hearing, Rep. Cedric Richmond asked Apple's Bruce Sewell how the company might handle a hypothetical — say, if clues to a forthcoming nuclear explosion were locked in an iPhone. In Sewell's response, at about 3:31:15 in the embedded video, he said Apple would attempt to find "all of the data that surrounds that phone." Sewell gestured toward other times Apple had cooperated in emergencies, including looking for a lost child and assisting the FBI after the Malaysia Airlines plane went missing in 2014.
"When the Malaysia Airline[s] plane went down, within one hour of that plane being declared missing, we had Apple operators cooperating with telephone providers all over the world, with the airlines [and] with the FBI to try to find a ping, to try to find some way we could locate where that plane was," Sewell said at the hearing. He continued, saying that Apple would use all "emergency procedures" it has available to help in the situation posed by Richmond.
An Apple spokesperson declined to elaborate on Sewell's comments.
Sewell was questioned — and occasionally grilled — during the hearing over Apple's stance on encryption. The company continues to fight with the FBI in a legal dispute over helping to crack the security on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.