The FBI quit demanding Apple do their jobs for them, and in a disturbing announcement said that they could now crack the previously secure iPhone 6 recovered from the San Bernadino killers.
Apple boldly announced their opposition to a court order to unlock the phone themselves.
Supposedly, cracking one iPhone would compromise security for the entire product line.
Now the Federal Bureau of Investigation says in a court filing, that they’ve lawfully broken into the phone of the murderous, deceased government employee, for which they used a proper search warrant and some help from an undisclosed private company, according to the Wall Street Journal:
The filing doesn’t indicate what method the FBI used to access the data on the phone, nor does it say what, if any, evidence related to the attack was found on it. A government official said the method to unlock the phone wasn’t developed by a government agency, but by a private entity. Officials declined to say whether the same method could be used to open other versions of the iPhone using other operating systems.
Notably, the FBI never tried the Patriot Act or USA Freedom Act to force Apple to unlock their phone, preferring the All Writs Act of 1789 as PINAC News broke last month.
Apple CEO Tim Cook began the fight going straight to the court of public opinion in rare, but widely circulated customer lettersaying:
We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.
While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.
The world’s most valuable public company seemed poised to dig in for a long fight, the Apple engineers even threatening the ultimate act of civil disobedience, an almost Ayn Rand-esque threat to depart the company, rather than break their own product on behalf of the government.
But now the cracked iPhone is in the FBI’s hands and we the people don’t know if they’ve concocted an all devices solution or a one time solution, or truly if they did get into the phone at all until evidence of entry is admitted in open court or a FOIA request.
Likely, Apple lawyers will seek a dismissal, because the case is now moot.
Why did the FBI go to such extremes to get Apple’s cooperation, if they had the technical means to crack the iPhone all along?