Apple aids FBI in locating protester accused of firebombing cop cars

Apple gave the FBI data on a Black Lives Matter activist accused of firebombing police vehicles during a protest last May.

The FBI investigation into the incident, which took place at a demonstration in Seattle over the police killing of George Floyd, began after a tip pointed to Kelly Jackson as the alleged perpetrator.

After obtaining Jackson’s name, the FBI was able to secure records from Verizon placing the suspect at the protest earlier this year. The FBI also learned that the suspect owned an iPhone 7, according to a search warrant obtained by Forbes.

Investigators then contacted Apple and were given access to Jackson’s iCloud account, which included photographs from the day of the protest.

The FBI says it found a screenshot of an Instagram post in Jackson’s photo gallery describing the protest as “The Defiant Walk of Resistance Against Injustice.”

Jackson also purportedly took a screenshot of a webpage that listed the “ingredients” for a Molotov cocktail.

Investigators further claim that one video in Jackson’s iCloud account showed a white male’s hands pulling a glass bottle out of a black bag, while another showed a similar bottle being thrown into a police car that caught fire immediately after.

While the man’s face is never visible in the two videos, the FBI says it was able to match the sweatshirt worn in the clips to other videos of the suspect that day.

Jackson, who is accused of lighting two police vehicles on fire, was arrested last week and charged with arson and unlawful possession of a destructive device.

Although Apple has not commented publicly on the case, the company complies with the majority of requests it receives from law enforcement.

In its last transparency report, Apple stated that it received 4,095 requests for user data and handed over information for 3,645 during the second half of 2019.


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*First Published: Sep 16, 2020, 5:30 pm

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.

Mikael Thalen

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