Feds Drop Brooklyn iPhone Access Request
The US Justice Department appears to have missed another opportunity to set a legal precedent forcing Apple to unlock an iPhone, after it dropped a court case when an unnamed individual provided the passcode.
A letter filed by prosecutors in a federal court in Brooklyn at the end of last week claimed abruptly that the FBI “no longer needs Apple’s assistance.”
Although it’s not clear who provided the all-important passcode, the smart money would be on the device owner – suspected drug trafficker Jun Feng.
The case predates the more widely publicized San Bernardino case, in which the Feds eventually dropped their demand that Apple provide backdoor access to the device, after reportedly paying a third party in the region of $1 million to provide access.
In the Brooklyn case, the device is running iOS 7 which – unlike the iOS9 handset in San Bernardino – Apple could technically provide access to fairly simply as it doesn’t feature the same strong encryption system.
Prior to their sudden decision to drop the case, the Feds were appealing judge Orenstein’s decision in February that the All Writs Act of 1789 couldn’t be used by the FBI to compel Apple to open up the device.
Justice Department spokeswoman, Emily Pierce, told Reuters that its cases have “never been about setting a court precedent; they are about law enforcement’s ability and need to access evidence on devices pursuant to lawful court orders and search warrants.”
Attention will now shift to the draft Feinstein-Burr anti-encryption bill – aka the Compliance with Court Orders Act – which would force the hand of companies like Apple in such cases to submit to the FBI’s demands.
Reports suggest that the Feds still have hundreds of locked devices they want to access as part of ongoing investigations.
According to information released by the American Civil Liberties Union last month, the US government has applied for an order under the All Writs Act to force Apple or Google to provide assistance in accessing data stored on a mobile device on over 60 separate occasions.
Source: Information Security Magazine