THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Prizmo 5

The Pro Scanner App with Powerful Editing Capabilities


Posts tagged with "Justice Department"

FBI Accessed San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone Without Apple, Drops Litigation

Sheera Frenkel and Hamza Shaban, writing for BuzzFeed:

The Justice Department (DOJ) announced Monday that it had successfully accessed data on the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters and that it was dropping its case against Apple to help unlock the phone.

Investigators are no longer seeking Apple’s help to penetrate the device, according to a court filing by the DOJ Monday.

A week ago the Department of Justice successfully postponed a court hearing after revealing that the FBI had been approached by a third party who had a possible method to unlock the iPhone (subsequently rumored to be Israeli firm Cellebrite). That method appears to have paid off, with the Department of Justice asking the court to vacate the order compelling Apple to assist the FBI and writing in its Status Report to the court that:

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.

In response to the Department of Justice’s Status Report, Apple issued a response to The Verge and other media outlets:

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.

Permalink

Court Grants the Justice Department’s Request for iPhone Hearing to Be Postponed

A hearing scheduled for Tuesday, 22 March 2016, between Apple and the Justice Department was unexpectedly cancelled on Monday after a request from the Justice Department. In its application requesting Tuesday’s hearing to be postponed, the Justice Department stated that a third party approached the FBI on Sunday with a possible method that could unlock the iPhone, without requiring assistance from Apple.

On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone. Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. (“Apple”) set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case.

Judge Sheri Pym granted the request after Apple did not object, and the Justice Department will now have to file a status report by 5 April 2016. The court order compelling Apple to assist the FBI has also been stayed by Judge Pym “pending further submissions” because Monday’s submissions from the Justice Department have resulted in “uncertainty surrounding the government’s need for Apple’s assistance”.

It is not clear who contacted the FBI with the possible method, and on a call with BuzzFeed and other reporters, a law enforcement official refused to name them, other than saying that it came “from outside the U.S. government”. Apple’s attorney told reporters that it did not know what the supposed vulnerability is, but that fixing it will be “an urgent priority for the company” and that they will insist that the government share details of the exploit if the case moves forward.

As The New York Times points out, it is unlikely that this is the last we will hear about this case, particularly if the FBI concludes that the new method will not work. In any case, we will learn more when the Justice Department files their status report in the coming weeks before the court imposed deadline of 5 April 2016.

“This will only delay an inevitable fight over whether the government can force Apple to break the security of its devices,” said Alex Abdo, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, an advocacy group.

For the Justice Department, cracking the iPhone would be a mixed blessing. While it would give investigators access to data that they see as crucial to a terrorism investigation, it would cut short the encryption debate that the F.B.I. had been trying to start for years before the Apple case came along.

Courtesy of BuzzFeed, you can read the Justice Department’s motion to vacate here, and the Court’s order here.

[via BuzzFeed and The New York Times]


Apple, FBI, and iPhone Security: A Roundup of News and Links

Apple made headlines around the world last week when Tim Cook announced, in an open letter to their customers, that Apple would oppose a court order requiring it to circumvent iOS security features. Since then, new developments in the story have broken and many have contributed with explanations of why the outcome of this battle between Apple and the FBI is significant.

Our relative silence on this topic at MacStories is not because we don’t think this story is important. To the contrary, we believe it is incredibly important and we applaud the principled stand that Cook’s Apple has decided to make. But we are hesitant to wade into this important debate, which can be incredibly technical, when there are far smarter minds out there who better deserve your time and attention.

To that end, we’ve compiled a list of useful news articles, opinion pieces, and other resources that we believe are worth a few minutes of your time.

Read more