U.S. government to continue effort to force Apple to unlock iPhone in Brooklyn

“The U.S. Justice Department on Friday said it will move ahead with an appeal of a court ruling blocking the government from forcing Apple Inc to help unlock an iPhone in a drug case in New York,” Nate Raymond and Julia Love report for Reuters. “In a letter filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, the Justice Department said “the government continues to require Apple’s assistance in accessing the data that it is authorized to search by warrant.”

“The letter came a day after Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said the agency’s secret method for unlocking an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino shooters will not work on other models,” Raymond and Love report. “Those models include the iPhone 5s, the type of phone at issue in the case pending in Brooklyn. Apple has said it has the capability to access that phone but has fought against a U.S. bid for its help doing so.”

“The phone in the Brooklyn case belonged to Jun Feng, who has since pleaded guilty to participation in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy. The Justice Department sought to unlock Feng’s phone to find other conspirators,” Raymond and Love report. “Unlike the phone used by Rizwan Farook in San Bernardino, Feng’s phone had an older operating system, iOS 7, which is not protected under the same encryption technology.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If you value your privacy, use an Secure Enclave-equipped iPhone (iPhone 5s or later) with the latest version of iOS (currently iOS 9.3.1).

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Meet Cellebrite, the Israeli company reportedly cracking iPhones for the FBI – March 24, 2016


  1. If it has iOS 7, why does’t the DOJ spent $10,000 to have it unlocked by their favorite forensics vendor?

    They have demonstrated an ability to get in newer iOS 8, so 7 shouldn’t a problem.

    If the secure enclave is the real issue, then ask the confessed drug dealer to open it up for a deal. How about $10,000? Just saying.

    The DOJ has so many options that Apple really shouldn’t be bothered.

    1. Because it is an iPhone 5S which has the Secure Enclave, which the tool the FBI bought cannot unlock. They only have something that can unlock iPhones and iPads that use the A6 and A6X processors that have the Encryption Engine built into the processor. All of the later iPhones, including the iPhone 5S, don’t use that, and have the separate Secure Enclave instead.

      1. So this would mean, I think, Apple can’t help them at all. Who ever said that Apple could open a 5S, better be lying. But rest assured come next September, this will all be a non-issue that can’t be legislated or court ordered.

        1. That doesn’t mean the government won’t try. That is basically what the FBI is doing in the Massachusetts iPhone 6S with iOS 9. They got an All Writs Act court order requiring Apple to unlock it in February but are not pursuing it. . . now. . . but the court order has not been vacated. . . yet. Apple has stated that, unlike the iPhone 5C, they cannot technologically open an iPhone with that configuration at all. That inconvenient fact has not stopped the FBI or the court from ordering them to do it.

          Seriously, I am certain there are blockheads in the government who would introduce legislation to repeal the Law of Gravity and make Pi equal to 3, if you gave them enough campaign funds. They’d believe it was completely possible and vigorously.

  2. Speaking out of both sides of his mouth the president wants it both ways: Yesterday he declined support for legislatiuon to defeat encreyption, today he oks pursuit of Apple.

    We will rise again, all Appl’es loyal users and all who value privacy and freedom to block this attempt to control and destroy it.

    1. By continuing their pursuit of Apple to unlock the New York drug case iPhone 5S, they prove that FBI Director Comey told the truth when he stated the FBI does not have the ability to unlock any iOS devices introduced using the A7 or later processors. In other words, the iPhone 5S, 6, 6Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, and SE are all secure against the FBI hacking tool. All’s well in the modern era iOS world.

  3. Just the one phone……….

    That nation is right on course to rock bottom but the momentum might be take it a bit further, to where no crud has gone before.

  4. The defendant pleaded guilty.
    He will be sentenced this month.
    But he is unwilling to unlock his iPhone?
    Is a Fifth Amendment right to avoid further prosecution?

    Meanwhile, Friday, February 26th:

    A federal magistrate-judge in New York City has ruled that the U.S. government can’t force Apple to hack an iPhone to investigate a drug dealer. . . . The U.S. government’s argument doesn’t justify “imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the government’s investigation against its will,” the judge wrote. . . . “[T]he question to be answered in this matter, and in others like it across the country, is not whether the government should be able to force Apple to help it unlock a specific device,” Orenstein wrote. “[I]t is instead whether the All Writs Act resolves that issue and many others like it yet to come. … I conclude that it does not.”

    So the DOJ is appealing. This is going to be more interesting than the FBI’s fumbled attempt to coerce Apple to disable security on the San Bernardino phone!

    ALSO: I came across this interesting bit of information that defines the word “disingenuous” regarding the DOJ:

    DOJ knew of possible iPhone-cracking method before Apple case
    The DEA filed a warrant request to use an iPhone cracking technology weeks before the FBI went to court against Apple

    So, what is all this REALLY about?
    A) Federal incompetence,
    B) Sticking it to Apple,
    C) Setting a court precedence to use the All Writs Act well beyond its intended power,
    D) Totalitarianism?

    Whatever, there are dirty doings going on in DC. Big revelation.

    1. Second guessing is easy, but…

      I cannot imagine why the Assistant US Attorney who made the plea deal with this druggy did not roll an agreement to unlock the phone into the deal. An offer of use immunity takes the Fifth Amendment right off the table. If the dealer would not accept a deal under those conditions, he probably did not deserve a deal at all!

  5. What also pisses me off about these ongoing DoJ cases, is that it is already becoming ‘burdensome’ for Apple even without the effort to rewrite iOS.
    The lawyers fees must be millions of dollars and this is only the start.
    No-one seems to care because Apple is rich, but this sort of bullshit will just kill a tech start-up.

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