US Govt drops case against Apple claiming FBI has found a way into iPhone

29 Mar 2016

The US government has found a way into the San Bernardino iPhone and says it no longer requires Apple's assistance

The FBI has found a way into the San Bernardino iPhone, prompting the US Department of Justice to drop its case against Apple. While the case may be over, it is by no means the end of the fight over encrypted smartphones.

In a court filing, the Department of Justice said: “The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires assistance from Apple.”

While no further details were given about how the FBI accessed the encrypted device, reports last week signalled that an Israel-based company called Cellebrite, which specialises in unlocking encrypted devices, may have been working with the US government.

‘This case should never have been brought’

The decision brings to an end a legal stand-off between the government of the world’s most powerful nation and the world’s most valuable company.

If you think, however, that this is the end of the matter, you would be mistaken.

This is not even the beginning of the end.

Battle over encryption of smart devices is only beginning

In a statement, the Department of Justice vowed to continue its efforts to gather data from encrypted devices.

“It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety, either with cooperation from relevant parties or through the court system.”

Worrying for Apple, it means keys that the company fears the “bad guys” could use to access the privacy of millions of people do actually exist.

It is now up to the FBI to warn Apple of any weakness or hold onto the method as classified information. The latter is most likely to be the case.

For its part, Apple has said it remains committed to improving the security of its products and helping law enforcement.

However, it said the court case brought against it was wrong.

“From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent,” Apple said in a statement.

“As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.”

Main image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years