Apple helped search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370

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A banner decorated a doorway at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California ahead of the new iPhone announcement on September 10, 2013.

NEW YORK — Apple said it worked to help investigators find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370.

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Apple’s General Counsel Bruce Sewell responded to a question about the company’s willingness to cooperate with investigations by saying that Apple routinely steps in to serve help enforcement.

He pointed to the famous missing plane as an example.

“When the Malaysia Airline plane went down, within one hour of that plane being declared missing, we had Apple operators cooperating with telephone providers all over the world, with the airlines and with local law enforcement [and] the FBI to try to find a ping, to try to find some way we could locate where that plane was,” Sewell said.

If there was a sign of trouble on the flight, it’s possible that passengers would have attempted cell phone calls, and Apple might have been able to recognize some of that activity. For reasons that are still not clear, investigators have still been unable to determine what happened to flight 370. Fragments of the plane were discovered in June 2015 off the coast of an African island.

Apple said that it has works with local police and the FBI whenever it legally can. But it has pushed back on a court order to create a software program that will help the FBI get inside an iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.

Citing its First Amendment rights, Apple claims that it cannot be compelled to write software it doesn’t want to create. Apple says the software would amount to a backdoor that could potentially be used to unlock millions more iPhones.

By David Goldman

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