The FBI has served a warrant to Apple to obtain information on the iCloud account of chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R), who is under investigation for controversial stock trades linked to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The Los Angeles Times reports FBI agents recently served Apple the warrant to gain access to Senator Burr’s iCloud data. The information gathered under the warrant was then used as evidence to serve another warrant to obtain the senator’s iPhone from his home.
Federal agents seized a cellphone belonging to a prominent Republican senator on Wednesday night as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into controversial stock trades he made as the novel coronavirus first struck the U.S., a law enforcement official said. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, turned over his phone to agents after they served a search warrant on the lawmaker at his residence in the Washington area, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a law enforcement action.
The Times says the Senator is being investigated for selling off a significant amount of his stock portfolio (between $628,000 and $1.72 million) in 33 different transactions on February 13, even as his committee was receiving daily COVID-19 briefings, and just one week before the stock market tanked.
Much of his sell-off involved businesses that in subsequent weeks were hit hard by the plunging market. This indicates Burr used the information he received during the briefings to make the trades.
While Apple has in the past refused to unlock iPhones when requested by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, they do decrypt iCloud backups when ordered to via a warrant. The company views privacy issues differently between iPhones (which can be easily lost) and the cloud.
iCloud backups include various types of data, including iMessage and text messages, photos and videos, health data, and more.