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Justice Department Extracts iPhone Data, Drops Case Against Apple

Apple-Logo-blackApple’s battle with the U.S. government has reportedly come to an end. The Justice Department on Monday filed a motion asking that its order that Apple unlock an iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Ryzwan Farook be vacated. Prosecutors claim that the FBI has successfully been able to access data on the iPhone in question without the support of Apple, according to CNBC.

“Our decision to conclude the litigation was based solely on the fact that, with the recent assistance of a third party, we are now able to unlock that iPhone without compromising any information on the phone,” U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said in a statement.

Apple released the following statement Monday regarding the motion to vacate the order:

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

We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated.

Apple believes deeply that people in the United States and around the world deserve data protection, security, and 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.”

Last month, a federal judge issued an order that Apple aid the FBI in an investigation of Farook – one of the perpetrators in the Dec. 2, 2015 San Bernardino attack that left 14 people dead and 22 seriously injured. The order would have required Apple to provide specialized software that would allow law enforcement officials to circumvent the security measures on Farook’s iPhone that are designed to erase its data after a specific number of unsuccessful login attempts.

Apple resisted the FBI’s request leading to a very public debate.

Related: Staying Informed Paramount When Forming Opinions in Apple, FBI Case

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  • Relief that a bad legal precedent was avoided. Concern that people criticize Apple for defending itself and its customers. Apple deserves to do better financially by making a choice that consumers want. If only most big banks, insurance companies and drug companies felt that way.

  • I’m not totally up to date on the case, but do we know who finally cracked it? Was it the Mossad after all? Of course, that’s just going to annoy Apple even more, so iOS 10 will probably be a nightmare to use because of all of the encryption they will slather on there.

    Has anyone been forced (by Apple) to change an Apple ID password recently? It’s an unrelenting nightmare and the Internet Accounts preference pane nearly shuts down in the process. The last time I had to do this, I has to work with an AppleCare person because it would not populate on the back end. It took 2 hours from my work day, as if we all have that free time to give.

    I guess the thing that bothers me the most about the whole encryption debate is that the big multinational banks, credit card companies and corporations all act as if all of these security “features” are designed solely for us, the little guy’s protection. They’re not. They’re designed to protect the big guys. Apple is now a financial services company with ApplePay and I just find all of this valiant defense of the little guy’s privacy a bit hard to swallow. Apple does what is in Apple’s best interests time and time again. If it happens to benefit consumers, swell. I’m just tired of them pretending they’re defending the rights of us little guys.

    How refreshing would it be for Tim Cook to say, “We want to sell un-hackable devices because we will make more money than if we leave a backdoor for law enforcement to get in with a warrant.” Naw. That won’t happen. In much the same way that Apple never “recalls” anything, but rather has quiet, “extended hardware repair programs,” I doubt will ever get that kind of transparency. ;-)

    This encryption story is just getting started…