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FBI Unlocks San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone, Withdraws Lawsuit Against Apple

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And the FBI has finally done it. The highly hyped iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter has now been unlocked — and that too, without Apple’s help. This also marks the end of a very public — and perhaps unintended — PR campaign.

The Government remains tight-lipped on how it achieved the feat. It could be via Cellebrite, the Israeli security firm FBI had chosen for the task. Meanwhile, the Justice department has dropped the case against Apple Inc.

As per a filing by the government lawyers,

The Government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple Inc. mandated by Court’s Order Compelling Apple Inc. to Assist Agents in Search dated February 16, 2016.

Smug, eh? Well, they certainly have the right to be. The case, which dragged on for 5 weeks, saw the FBI repeatedly asked Apple to unlock the iPhone 5c, rather like Oliver twist with his bowl of gruel.

However, the software giant refused, citing user privacy and security as it’s chief reasons and was backed by a large section of the population, as well as most corporate entities.

Speaking on the topic to TechCrunch, Apple appeared to be quite unperturbed by the development.

Apple believes deeply that people in the United States and around the world deserve data protection, securityand privacy. Sacrificing one for the other only puts people and countries at greater risk.

This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy. Apple remains committed to participating in that discussion.

Well, considering that it managed to hold its ground against Government agencies, it is certainly not a loss for it, if not a win. The company managed to make its point and gather support among the general public, while it’s iPhone 5c continued to bamboozle authorities for months.

Meanwhile, the case has been dropped due to several reasons — which doesn’t really make sense, if you give credence to the government’s statement that the method of unlocking is particular to only this iPhone.

First off, it doesn’t need Apple now. While it could have gone ahead with the case in order to set a precedent, the ancient all writs act which had been invoked to compel Apple, works only if there is no other way to do something.

So now that there is a way to unlock the iPhone without requiring the Cupertino manufacturer’s help, the all writs act doesn’t work anymore — leaving FBI’s case on even shakier grounds. Meanwhile, the Government doesn’t look to have been done with Apple just yet.

The Government’s claims, that the method works with only this particular iPhone, are undeniably shaky. After all, why ever not should it work with other devices? However, it seems like the Government may just be looking to bring back its case against the Cupertino giant, perhaps when it’s better prepared, leading to this subterfuge.


A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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