Apple Inc. is very interested in knowing how the FBI succeeded in unlocking the iPhone that belonged to the terrorist in San Bernardino. Reuters, citing a person familiar with the matter, said that just like how the agency asked a New York court to force Apple to unlock the device, the technology company can also push the government to reveal how it accessed the phone.
Brooklyn drug case could benefit Apple
In the next two weeks, we will learn whether the Justice Department will continue its bid to compel Apple to help access an iPhone in a Brooklyn drug case, stated a court filing on Tuesday. This week, the Justice Department withdrew a similar request in California after it succeeded in unlocking an iPhone — without help from the iPhone maker — used by one of the shooters in the mass shooting in December in San Bernardino.
There are several devices that need to be unlocked for investigation purposes, but prosecutors have not yet clarified whether the San Bernardino technique would work for other seized iPhones as well, including those in the Brooklyn case. And if the case continues, Apple could create legal pressure on the FBI to reveal the technique it used to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s phone, says Reuters.
Last month, a federal magistrate in Brooklyn ruled that he had no authority to order Apple to disable the security of an iPhone seized during a drug investigation. After this, the Justice Department made an appeal to a district court. On Tuesday, the U.S. government sent a letter to the Brooklyn judge agreeing to Apple’s request to delay the briefing.
All eyes on this case
The legal dispute between the U.S. government and Apple has served as a high-profile test of whether law enforcement should or should not be granted access to encrypted data on a phone. Apple, which has already won the support of most of the technology industry, argues that anything that helps authorities bypass security features will ultimately undermine security for all users.
On the other hand, government officials argue that if they are not allowed access to phone data belonging to criminals, all kinds of criminal investigations will be crippled. As of now, there are no comments from the Justice Department, although Apple made a statement that it does not know the FBI’s technical solution or which vendor is behind it or what it allegedly achieves.