Apple says it helped in the search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370

RAAF Pilot monitors the systems of a RAAF C-130J Hercules aircraft as it prepares to launch two Self Locating Data Marker Buoys in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the Australian Defence Force’s assistance to the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. PHOTO: Leading Seaman Justin Brown

Apple assisted investigators in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 plane, Apple lawyer Bruce Sewell said Tuesday.

Sewell was testifying before a House committee hearing on encryption and security when he was asked about a hypothetical scenario involving an encrypted iPhone that had information about a nuclear bomb on.

Apple’s SVP of legal and government affairs said that the company had an array of options at its disposal to help investigations — bringing up Malaysia Airlines flight 370 as an example.

The plane disappeared while en route to Beijing in March 2014, and has been the subject of intense media speculation. Some wreckage has been discovered, but the majority of the plane remains missing.

“When the Malaysia Airline[s] 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 the FBI to try to find a ping, to try to find some way we could locate where that plane was,” Sewell said.

Apple is currently at the centre of heated debate over smartphone security and encryption. The FBI is trying to force the Cupertino company to build a tool to help it unlock an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters — but Apple is refusing, arguing that creating the tool would be dangerous, and set a worrying precedent.

The full footage of Bruce Sewell’s testimony, along with that of FBI director James Comey, is below. You can see the question that leads Sewell to discuss MH370 from 5:01:45 onwards.

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