FBI recently obtained iCloud data access from Apple for Senator Richard Burr, as part of an on-going investigation regarding stock sales.
Richard Burr is under investigation for selling his stock portfolio while he was receiving updates from government health officials regarding coronavirus pandemic. The timing of his stock sales preceded the sharp decline in the stock market, just a week later. He had heavily invested in businesses that suffered the most due to the pandemic.
As per LA Times:
Burr sold a significant percentage of his stock portfolio in 33 different transactions on Feb. 13, just as his committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings and a week before the stock market declined sharply. Much of the stock was invested in businesses that in subsequent weeks were hit hard by the plunging market.
Burr sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million worth of stocks. He was not the only senator to do so, as a few others are also under investigation. His brother in law also sold his shares worth between $97,000 and $280,000, on the same day as Burr’s sell-off.
It is against the law for lawmakers to make trading decisions based on classified intelligence briefings that they receive due to their position in the government.
FBI has acquired Burr’s iCloud data backup from Apple that would be used as evidence in the on-going investigations. LA Times reported:
A second law enforcement official said FBI agents served a warrant in recent days on Apple to obtain information from Burr’s iCloud account and said agents used data obtained from the California-based company as part of the evidence used to obtain the warrant for the senator’s phone.
Apple is not a stranger to providing help to the government and agencies, when due legal process is applied. It is even rumored that Apple dropped plans to encrypt iCloud backups based on the FBI’s request, as it would prove useful during investigations, however, multiple reports have refuted these claims.
Despite providing complete data backups, which provide sufficient personal information for investigations, Apple still refuses to help unlock iPhones for the FBI. The company draws the line there as it believes that a backdoor, once created, would fall in the wrong hands, which would put the privacy and security of almost a billion devices at risk. It should also be noted that the FBI is still able to unlock some iPhones, even the latest iPhone 11 Pro, by using tools like Graykey.