DOJ unlocks San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, withdraws case against Apple

After the FBI confirmed it was dropping its case against Apple on Monday, the Cupertino company has officially responded. “This case should never have been brought,” it said in a statement, which insists it is still committed to participating in the discussion about privacy.

The filing comes a week after the DOJ asked the court to postpone its hearing with Apple, claiming it had found a possible method for accessing the data stored on an iPhone 5c, which belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.
Applicant United States of America, by and through its counsel of record, the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, hereby files this status report called for by the Court’s order issued on March 21, 2016. (CR 199.)
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.
The short request seemingly brings the high profile case to an anticlimactic end. In February, when the court ordered Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking Farook’s iPhone, it sparked a worldwide debate on user rights, privacy and encryption.

Apple has issued a statement regarding the DOJ’s request:
“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,” the statement reads.

Apple went on to say that it will help law enforcement agencies with their investigations to the extent that it can, but will also continue to ratchet up its security measures. “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,” the statement went on. “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.”
If the FBI was able to crack this iPhone, there is a chance others can, too. Apple will likely be looking at ways it can make iOS even more secure to prevent this, then, which will almost certainly mean similar requests from the FBI and other agencies in future.


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