Who really won and lost in the Apple vs. FBI showdown

“One of the more compelling institutional cage-matches in the last few years, Apple vs. the FBI, ended in an anti-climax March 28,” Lev Grossman writes for TIME Magazine. “As denouements go it wasn’t particularly dramatic. It’s hard to tell who even won.”

“The FBI got its data, whatever it was, we still don’t know,” Grossman writes. “Apple got to stick to its principles—I spoke to Cook for a TIME cover story two weeks ago, when it was abundantly clear that there was no way Cook was going to give an inch on this one, unless the law compelled him to. Apple would’ve liked to take this issue to Congress and get the legal landscape clarified; it didn’t get that. The FBI didn’t get to set the legal precedents it sought either.”

“The FBI did salvage an angstrom of pride by opening the phone without Apple’s help. The whole saga had served as an extended advertisement for the strength of the iPhone’s security, and conversely it was making the FBI look technologically weak,” Grossman writes. “Even though Apple’s products wound up looking that less secure, the outcome does strengthen Apple’s reputation as a defender of privacy, and its claim that strong encryption isn’t a security disaster.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The FBI attempted to never let a serious crisis go to waste, despicably using dead terrorism victims to try to force the courts and public opinion to grant them a skeleton key into iOS. The FBI either lied that they were unaware that there were other ways to get into that specific iPhone (Cellebrite is well-known; even Apple uses their services) than by trying to unconstitutionally force Apple engineers to write whatever the government dictated or they’re staffed by utter incompetents or both.

Apple stuck to its guns and won. They could cement the win by buying Cellebrite or by using courts to forcing the FBI to divulge the method and then, after testing, state that all newer iPhones which contain the Secure Enclave have always been immune to hacking via the method the FBI paid a third party to employ (NAND-mirroring) on the terrorist’s San Bernadino-issued iPhone 5C.

We await the next case with bated breath.

Apple’s new challenge: Learning how the U.S. cracked terrorist’s iPhone – March 29, 2016
Did the FBI just unleash a hacker army on Apple? – March 29, 2016
Apple declares victory in battle with FBI, but the war continues – March 29, 2016
Apple vows to increase security as FBI claims to break into terrorist’s iPhone – March 29, 2016
U.S. government drops Apple case after claiming hack of terrorist’s iPhone – March 29, 2016
Meet Cellebrite, the Israeli company reportedly cracking iPhones for the FBI – March 24, 2016


  1. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, and the following might sound a bit like one, but I would certainly not be surprised if FBI just decided to back off and got nothing. There is no third-party expert, the phone was never cracked, nor will it be, FBI just realised that they can’t win their precedent with this case, so they moved on.

    Some time soon, there will be another case, and it will be emotional and compelling (“think about the kids” [courtesy of MDN, who purportedly holds “copyright” on this phrase…]). In seriousness, the next case will be carefully chosen, perhaps where the phone belongs to the victim, and the story is spun so that the phone would contain the image and data of the perpetrator, together with a lot of other valuable info. If it doesn’t exist, FBI may even fabricate such a case, to make sure it is airtight, and Apple has no chance against the public opinion.

    This is a very challenging battle for Apple, one that will be extremely difficult to fight (and keep winning).

    1. Could be false, could be true. The sad thing is that we don’t know whether the FBI is lying or telling the truth. It should be illegal for a government agency to lie to the public, especially on legal matters of public concern. But, time and again, it has been proven that officials can lie, even under oath, and face little or no penalties.

  2. It’s astonishing to see when common sense flies out the window or what ever.

    An article in Time no less about “Who really won and lost in the Apple vs. FBI showdown” and the obvious totally missed.

    Newsflash Lev Grossman, there’s a loser in the Apple vs. FBI showdown that you missed. And you call yourself a journanalist. HA!
    The loser, or losers in this case are the lawyers. I mean think of the loss of revenue that the Apple and FBI lawyers, on both sides are experiencing.

    How are these guys expected to pay for their mistresses, golf clubs in Malibu, resorts at Guantanamo on the Bay, weekends in Vegas if these huge juicy T-Bone steak court cases simply vanish in a puff of smoke and mirrors before they even get started. A moron could have seen this, oh but it’s totally oblivious to a Time jouranalist called Lev Grossman.

    Oh and Lev, what really makes you gross man is the lie you made at the end of the article. “Terrorists worldwide declined to issue a statement, but they were undoubtedly watching this all unfold.”

    I know one world wide terrorist nation that has issued many statements are are participating with this unfolding. I guess you don’t realize what has happened to your nation Lev Grossman. I mean a moron could figure it out, who knows if a jouranalist ever will.

  3. The FBI didn’t get sh*t out of that phone.

    But, they certainly did get a bunch of puff pieces to say they did in the NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek (Daily Beast), and a few others besides this clown to perpetuate the lie that they did. Un-believably lazy ‘journalism.’

    Tim kicked the Obama DoJ’s ass. That’s what happened. And they’ll be pissed about for a long while.

      1. All the Republican candidates backed the Obama Administration and the FBI as well. That should tell everyone something. They’re all in it for themselves. Not the citizens.

      1. The AppleID password (that they changed) isn’t the same thing as the phone unlock code (which is what they wanted to determine by bypassing the unlock code counter).

  4. One thing that usually escapes notice is that the FBI has had the meta data for the phone from the beginning. This alone would have been enough to know whether there was anything there that would be worth investigating further.

    That means the whole case was crap from the beginning. Relying on the compliance of federal civil servants now officially made judges and the ignorance of the Android public.

  5. By opposing hundreds of years of fixed case law, Cook is enabling and abetting terrorists, rapists and homophobic murderers, putting the safety some of our most vulnerable citizens at risk for the sake of his pecuniary interests.

    1. Ok, MDN. How about a negative star rating? Or the ability to just block this idiot’s comments from ever gracing my beautiful “Tim Cooked” iPhone 6s ever again? I know, I know. One can dream, right?

    2. And what percentage of the population would you estimate that would be? If it’s small, why the fuck should anyone care? There are over 300 million people in the USA, 7+ billion in the entire world. If you took the percentage of your so-called “terrorists, rapists and homophobic murderers” it would not be significant. Not enough to lose any sleep over. The reason Cook stepped in in the fight against the FBI is essentially the same logic that the NRA uses. I know that’s scary but do you believe a small minority of people should inconvenience or take away rights from the vast majority? That is basically what the PATRIOT Act is, the TSA, all of that government stuff. Inconveniencing or spying on everybody in hopes that they actually are doing some good other than keeping unemployment numbers down.

  6. The FBI lost by revealing their methods and sources to the terrorists. What is next, teaching terrorists which computers are harder to track? They should of shut up and, if anything, make it look like they are sloppy and miss stuff.

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