FBI stop taking a ‘byte’ out of Apple
31 March 2016 by Ashton Carter
After obtaining a court order forcing Apple to build a “backdoor” into the iPhone, the FBI has now withdrawn their case after claiming that they no longer need Apple’s assistance. The case was brought to enable the FBI to access an iPhone which was linked to the shootings in San Bernardino last year but they now claim to have accessed the device with the help of a third party.
In February, a judge ruled that Apple must provide assistance to the Department of Justice to allow them to circumvent the iPhone feature that erases any data contained within the iPhone after a certain number of unsuccessful login attempts. This was to enable the FBI access to an iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook who was involved in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino last December.
Worried about setting a harmful precedent, Apple resisted the court order, believing that creating such software would threaten the security of iOS devices all around the world. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, stated that they had been asked to provide something “we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create.”
However, the Department of Justice has now moved to vacate the order, stating that they have managed to access the iPhone’s data with the help of a third party, without compromising any information on the phone. Understandably, very little information has been released regarding how the Department of Justice managed to access the phone, or the identity of the third party that helped them.
While this case may be over, no real resolution was reached for the conflict between national security and personal privacy. It is likely to only be a matter of time before another similar case arises and law enforcement agencies will only be encouraged by the fact that the FBI was successful in obtaining a court order previously. Until that time, device manufacturers appear to be safe – at least for now.
What is your opinion on the issue? Do you feel that our right to privacy should take a backseat when it comes to matters of national security? Are you concerned about the potential implications of providing government bodies with access to people’s personal data? Let us know by posting a comment in the comments section below.