The battle between Apple and the FBI has come to a close as the data of the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook has been accessed. Despite the end of the most controversial case involving government access to encrypted devices to date, Apple is being pressured by the Department of Justice yet again.
The federal government is pushing the tech giant to assist in unlocking an iPhone 5s that belongs to convicted Brooklyn meth dealer Jun Feng. The Department of Justice emphasized its need for help from Apple in a letter yesterday.
On the topic of the DOJ’s original order for Apple to assist, the letter reads that the “government continues to require Apple’s assistance in accessing the data that it is authorized to search by the warrant.” In addition, the letter confirms that the government is seeking to appeal the judge’s decision to deny a request for Apple to provide information on the iPhone in question.
Similar to the San Bernardino case, the government is using the All Writs Act as the basis of its argument. However, in order to justify this, it must be proven that there is no other solution to unlock the device. In this case, the device is running iOS 7, which is far less secure than Apple’s more recent iOS 8 and iOS 9 software. In fact, there is a kit being sold online for around $300 that can unlock devices running iOS 7 in minutes.
It should also be mentioned that, unlike the San Bernardino case, this case has already been solved, as Feng has already confessed. Moreover, this is not a case involving terrorism.
So, what does all this mean? As more and more cases involving device encryption are appearing, it can be implied that the government is trying to find a starting point to set a new precedent on the issue. This is evident as the Jun Feng case has already been closed, and there are proven alternate methods to unlocking the iPhone 5s in question. It should be noted as well that the Department of Justice claimed it was asking Apple for a one-time favor in the San Bernardino case, but, after Farook’s iPhone was accessed by an independent third party, they are asking the same “favor” for another case.
Despite the FBI gaining access to the San Bernardino iPhone, it is becoming more and more apparent that this case was only the beginning of a contested battle over device encryption between the federal government and private technology companies.
Screenshots from https://www.apple.com/iphone-6s/ios-9/