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Apple's fight over encryption is only just beginning

The FBI might have been able to crack the San Bernardino suspect's iPhone, but the Department of Justice is still pressuring the company to hack into a Brooklyn drug dealer's handset
April 9, 2016

The U.S. government indeed dropped their demand for Apple to hack into the San Bernardino suspect's iPhone 5c, but that doesn't mean the company's fight is over. Instead, it's only just beginning, as the Department of Justice (DoJ) is continuing to pressure Apple into “helping” in another case.

The government is once again demanding Apple's help.

According to Bloomberg, the DoJ is indeed continuing to fight for Apple's help “in getting data off a phone in Brooklyn, New York, that belonged to a drug dealer.” The handset in question seems to be an iPhone 5s, and as such, the government won't be able to hack into it using the same tool it utilized for the San Bernardino iPhone 5c. This tool, as we explained earlier today, could only break into “a narrow slice of phones,” and isn't compatible with the iPhone 5s, 6, or 6s. As such, the government is once again demanding Apple's help.

This issue certainly isn't new

However, although the Brooklyn handset is indeed an iPhone 5s, it is reportedly running a much earlier version of Apple's mobile OS – iOS 7, as opposed to an iteration of the current iOS 9. This could make the handset easier for government officials to crack; Apple, so far, is questioning whether the government “has exhausrted all the methods available to obtain data on the phone.”


Alongside all of this is another case in which Apple is being asked to unlock an iPhone 6, which belonged to a gangster based in Massachusetts. The order came in February, with documents only recently being unsealed. This handset, however, is running iOS 9.1: a version of the mobile OS which, according to a person familiar with the case, “even Apple can't crack.”

Apple's refusal to unlock the iPhones of suspects in these most recent cases has propelled the issue into the media spotlight. It's also encouraged the drafting of a new bill which, if passed, would allow judges to force companies like Apple into unlocking the iOS devices of suspects (though, at the minute, the bill isn't explicit as to what penelties might be delivered if companies refuse the order).