Apple declares victory in battle with FBI, but the war continues

“Apple has declared victory in its battle against the FBI, after the government announced it had found a way into the San Bernardino killer’s iPhone that did not require the manufacturer’s help,” Alex Hern reports for The Guardian.

“The FBI has refused to disclose how it has extracted the desired information from the iPhone, given by San Bernardino county to its employee Syed Farook, who murdered 14 people with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, in December 2015,” Hern reports. “But by doing so without Apple’s help, the FBI has undercut its previous claims that there was no way to decrypt the iPhone without cooperation from the firm.”

Apple “acknowledges that the FBI’s withdrawal is likely to be only the end of a battle, not victory in the longer war. ‘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,'” Hern reports.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Congress should act before Round 2 begins.


  1. This was never about the particular information in that particular phone. I really doubt the fbi got anything useful, assuming they actually got in.

    This last move was all about saving some face while backing out of a losing court battle.

  2. The game now moves to New York, and the convicted (plea bargained) drug dealer’s iPhone. IIRC, the Feds lost the first round badly, but said they will appeal. Apple asked for a delay to see what happened in Cal. Older phone, older iOS, I think.

    So will the Feds keep going? The record so far is negative for them. Will the Cal hack work in NY? (Have the Feds bought enough licences?) The West Coast case was only ever about one phone, remember! Much fun ahead, unless the Feds decide on discretion and to return to low key, non All Writs, warrants.

    1. Under my understanding of the All Writs Act, a federal court can only grant extraordinary relief against a person who is not the subject of an investigation where there is (1) some connection between that person and the case; (2) a manifest necessity to issue the order in order to preserve the court’s jurisdiction; and (3) the relief sought will not be unduly burdensome to the person, given the overall context of the case. Apple is contesting all three issues in both the New York and California cases.

      The San Bernardino hack probably doesn’t alter grounds (1) & (3) in the New York case, but it strongly suggests that there is no manifest necessity for the court to issue a writ, since the FBI can apparently crack an iPhone without Apple’s assistance.

      1. Forget the All Writs Acts
        1. In 1996 the courts ruled that software was a form of free speech, i.e. protected under the constitution. Not surprisingly, the software in question was encryption software which the gov/t wanted to classify as “munitions.”
        2. The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act expressly forbids the gov/t from forcing companies to do what the FBI wanted Apple to do.

      2. While I would be happy to forget the All Writs Act (AWA), it constitutes the basis for the Government’s case. The First Amendment and CALEA arguments are defenses to the applicability of the AWA. Essentially, they provide reasons why the relief sought would be unlawfully (indeed, unconstitutionally) burdensome on Apple, but they only come into play if the AWA is otherwise applicable. To even get far enough to argue against the defenses, the Government has to make a case that its proposed order is a necessary exercise of the court’s power under the AWA to protect its own jurisdiction. That simply isn’t true if there is another practicable means to read the encrypted data seized pursuant to the original search warrant.

  3. Well the war mongering nation will breathe a sigh of relief that the war will continue, any country that spends 80% of their history sure develops a fetish for it, until it gets incorporated into their DNA (Destructive Nuclear Arsenal)

    Fortunately there are those that are trying to help this misguided torturing nation: “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.”

    Everyone around the world deserves it, even the undeserving. Isn’t that nice of Apple, to try to help those citizens who belong to a nation that has no morals or ethics.

  4. Nothing was decided in the courts because the FBI found a way to hack into the phone. Apple has won nothing yet – this will all eventually be played out in the courts. If anything, Apple kind of got smacked by having their phone hacked into. We’ll see how this eventually plays out.

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