FBI still wants Apple's help to unlock iPhones in other cases

FBI still wants Apple's help to unlock iPhones in other cases

Discrimination between Apple and FBI gained notoriety for the case involving the unlocking of an iPhone 5c used by Syed Farook, one of those responsible for the terrorist attack in San Bernardino (California). But the truth is that the friction between the company and the government is not limited to this case; some others, spread across the United States, also reveal the disagreement.

However, it was not always so.

Apple first helped the FBI in 2008

Apple is known to have helped the US government access information on 70-80 iPhones before iOS 8 arrived. Wall Street Journal, in 2008 in the first case involving a court order for Ma to cooperate with the government, the company not only passed on information on the device but helped prosecutors to draft the court decision that forced them to cooperate (including invoking the All Writs Act).

The case in point was the trial of Amanda and Christopher Jansen, a young couple from Watertown (New York) who evolved into one of the second most horrifying episodes of child sexual abuse in the local press.

After signing the court order, a NY police investigator took the iPhone to Cupertino, where Apple unlocked the device and gained access to the information all in the presence of the investigator.

What changed from there to here? The Edward Snowden case (for those who don't know what we're talking about, Snowden, an NSA analyst, made public details of various programs that make up the agency's global surveillance system). One of the government's surveillance projects (called PRISM) monitored several servers from various internet giants (including Apple). For obvious reasons, the relationship after that leak changed, and Apple started thinking twice before accepting a similar request. In addition, it began to take important measures against possible government and malicious attacks, such as implementing end-to-end encryption in its FaceTime and iMessage communication services) and taking a turn in iOS security with the release of the eighth version of the mobile operating system.

The fight continues

The legal dispute between Apple and the government in California (over the iPhone 5c of the San Bernardino terrorist) is settled. After saying that it would be “impossible” to unlock the device without the help of Apple (without the company creating a new operating system pruned with security features to be installed on top of the iOS used on the device), at 44 minutes of the second half FBI gave up everything for finding a solution to unlock the device without Ma's help.

But that does not mean that the government will give up other cases. In New York, despite the fact that the judge responsible for the case denied the government's request for access to data on an iPhone used by a drug dealer, the Department of Justice (Department of Justice, or DoJ) from the US made it clear (PDF) that it will continue to fight for that to happen.

The curious thing about this case is that the ruin in question has already pleaded guilty; on the other hand, unlike the terrorist's iPhone 5c, this device (an iPhone 5s) from the dealer uses an old iOS that allows Apple to access the data without the need to create a tool like the one mentioned above.

Apple's idea is not to oppose the government, but to pressure the FBI to show that the agency has really exhausted all possible possibilities to extract information from the phone instead of simply asking the company to do so (the simplest and easiest way, without debt).

In Boston, Apple was forced (or not) to help

In another case, in Boston (Massachusetts), where a gang member was accused of shooting a rival (from another gang), the judge responsible for the case ordered Apple to provide the technical assistance needed to help the FBI. The order was issued on February 1, but the document was sealed and was only opened now (April 8).

Despite this, the judge said that if the data is encrypted (taking into account that it is an iPhone 6 running iOS 9.1, the enormous probability), Apple is not obliged to try to decipher or allow, in any way, that the government try to access the data. So the government apparently dropped the case.

And the case of San Bernardino?

As we said, the case is settled. In fact, there is still a question: the FBI did not inform Apple of the method used to unlock the device. However, it is already well known that the tool used cloned the iPhone's flash memory to try to guess the device password without worrying about losing data after 10 wrong attempts. If the "world" knows that, obviously so does Apple.

Apple could file a lawsuit against the FBI to try to force it to disclose the method used, but because of the scenario described above, this does not make sense and the company does not run after that information.

(via MacRumors, The Verge, AppleInsider, ZDNet)