New iPhone update could create issues for investigators

The new iOS update is scheduled to be released in September
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 4:15 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Have you ever sent a message to the wrong person by accident? If you have an iPhone and you upgrade to the latest IOS 16 update likely in September, you could un-send that message. That’s even after it gets delivered. This might be good news for you, but detectives say it’s going to make their work more challenging.

“It will cause a problem for us,” said Marathon County Sheriff’s Department Detective Dan Mcghee.

He said it will definitely impact the way he does his job. Detectives have to examine more than the moment of the incident in question.

“It’s important to know what their communication was prior to an incident, during an incident, or after an incident,” said Detective Mcghee.

That’s why he often uses text conversations to find evidence for court cases. He said that evidence is crucial for serious cases.

“Text messages have been used in every case or have been important to us in every case that you can imagine-- from car crashes to domestic to homicide,” said Mcghee.

You’ve heard the saying, that there are two sides to every story. Detective Mcghee said text evidence often makes those sides more clear.

“SMS messaging is sometimes the way we can validate what a person is telling us what’s true or not true,” said Mcghee.

With this new update, that evidence could vanish.

“If it’s like a threat to do harm case or a harassment case and our victim is claiming a message was sent now that message is gone or been retracted by the person that sent it, it makes it harder for us to prove it occurred,” said Mcghee.

Which means more gray areas. Mcghee said it’s not his place to determine if the new update is worth it, but he knows it means more work for him.

“We have to find different ways to either try to recover those or find out what the source was… yeah, it’s going to definitely make it harder,” said Mcghee.

There is still a lot to learn about this update, like if law enforcement will have a way to recover the messages. But, Mcghee recommends you take a screenshot of any messages you think could be important.

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