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Apple served with warrant for Texas shooter’s iCloud data

First Baptist Church Opens To Public, Week After Mass Shooting Inside The Church Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Texas Rangers have served Apple with a search warrant for data from deceased Sutherland Springs gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, who killed 26 people in a Texas church earlier this month.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the warrant covers files stored in Kelley’s iCloud account, with law enforcement apparently seeking phone call and message information, photos and videos, and other data dating back to January 1st, 2016. Another warrant allows law enforcement to look for this data independently on an iPhone SE found near Kelley’s body. (A separate warrant covers data on a second device, which court records identify as an LG feature phone.) The warrants were obtained on November 9th, two days after the FBI complained that encryption had prevented it from accessing the shooter’s phone.

Apple’s policies state that it will share iCloud data with law enforcement agencies if there’s a valid warrant. Depending on how frequently Kelley created backups using iCloud, there may be additional information on the phone itself, but Apple has refused past requests to directly access devices — the company went to court last year to avoid unlocking a phone belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, until the FBI successfully hacked the phone without its help, rendering the case moot.

The FBI has used the Sutherland Springs shooting to argue that strong encryption is hurting law enforcement’s ability to investigate crimes, saying it was “working very hard to get into the phone.” Later reports indicated that it did not reach out to Apple within a 48-hour period during which Kelley’s fingerprint might have unlocked the phone via Touch ID.

Apple declined to comment on pending law enforcement matters, including whether it had provided iCloud data to the Texas Rangers. However, a spokesperson said that the company had not received any law enforcement agency request for technical help (like unlocking) related to Kelley’s phone.

Update 2:30PM ET: A person familiar with the matter has clarified that Apple received only a warrant for iCloud content, not iCloud and iPhone data. A more general warrant was issued separately to allow law enforcement to access the phone.