by Mickey Huff
Published: Updated:

Edward Snowden says the FBI is lying about needing Apple to unlock San Bernardino Massacre gunman Syed Farook’s iPhone 5C. At the Common Cause Blueprint for a Great Democracy conference, held in downtown Washington, D.C., on March 8, 2016, Snowden said: “The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the phone. Respectfully, that’s horseshit.” He also gave his support to an ACLU report that states the FBI’s claim is illegitimate, due to the existence of a memory mirroring process they can use to possibly unlock the phone. Snowden says the FBI has had access to this data extraction process, since the 1990s.

Snowden’s declaration of the FBI’s dishonesty seems to have been further corroborated by the FBI itself, when they cancelled their court date against Apple, for March 22, 2016; stating they have now enlisted a third party who may be able to unlock Farood’s iPhone for them. Additional Apple-free methods the FBI could possibly use to gain access to the phone, that the global technological community already appear to be aware of, consist of the following: “removing the processor cover with acid and lasers, using a monster jailbreak, a software exploit, or memory mirroring.”

As the FBI has expanded their unwarranted secret surveillance powers under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, the question arises as to what the Bureau’s actual intentions are by having the Department of Justice possibly force a privately-held corporation like Apple into compromising its own technology by hacking into to it; when it appears the FBI doesn’t need them to do so.

Regarding corporate media coverage of this story, Time Magazine also made mention of Snowden speaking out against the FBI at the Blueprint for Democracy Conference. However, The Guardian expanded coverage by providing video links to the Common Cause conference, pro-Apple commentary from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak; and a link to a previous Guardian article detailing a related New York iPhone unlocking case. Concurrently, as of March 23, 2016, Headlines & Global News, stated the Israeli tech company, Cellebrite, is reportedly helping the FBI to decrypt Farook’s iPhone; while The New York Times stated the FBI had previously employed Cellebrite for the same task to no avail. Edward Snowden has recently suggested that the FBI may have perjured itself in federal court, as a result of their latest admissions.


Samuel Gibbs, “Snowden: FBI’s claim it can’t unlock the San Bernardino iPhone is ‘bullshit,’” The Guardian, March 9, 2016,

Daniel Kahn Gillmoor, “One of the FBI’s Major Claims in the iPhone Case Is Fraudulent,” American Civil Liberties Union, March 7, 2016,

Zach Epstein, “Apple: We haven’t won our fight against the FBI”, March 22, 2016,

Chris Smith, “Here’s how the FBI might crack the San Bernardino iPhone,”, March 22, 2016,

John Nassivera, “Israeli Firm Helping FBI Hack San Bernardino Terrorist’s iPhone, Sources Claim,” Headlines and Global News, March 23, 2016,

Text of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008,

Corporate Coverage:

Nolan Feeny, “Edward Snowden Dismisses FBI Claim That Only Apple Can Unlock iPhone”, March 9, 2016,

Katie Benner, “F.B.I. Clash With Apple Loosed a Torrent of Possible Ways to Hack an iPhone”, March 23, 2016,

Matthew Deluca, “Terror iPhone Case Set Off Flurry of Hack Ideas, FBI Director Says”, March 24, 2016,

Independent Researcher: Jason Elliot Bud (Art Center College of Design)

Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)