The legal battle between the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Apple over accessing the iPhone of San Bernardino’s shooter after the authorities announced they had obtained the access to iPhone through third-party services.
However, the lawsuit triggered the debate between the law enforcement agencies and the technology firms over data privacy and encryption.
What was the lawsuit about?
A federal judge asked Apple to correspond to the request of FBI to unblock the iPhone of Syed Farooq, who shot dead 14 people in San Bernardino in December of last year.
The judge directed Apple to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to the FBI authorities, which would require Apple to install a backdoor software to crack the iPhone and overhaul the operating system that erases all the data after 10 unsuccessful attempts. But, Apple declined to help the FBI authorities.
The CEO of Apple Tim Cook described the order as “chilling” and that it would require the company to create an entirely new software that would compromise the entire security system of iPhone, the very much “fundamental concept” the company stands. Cook’s concern was that if they create such a software what the guarantee that, FBI won’t use it to breach other iPhones is?
However, law enforcement authorities argued it to be a one-off request. But the case went to the court.
What was controversial?
The case is marked as one of the high-profile clashes in the debate over encryption and privacy between the law enforcement agencies and the tech giant.
Law enforcement authorities claim that the encryption by Apple and its counterparts makes it harder for the law enforcement agencies to solve cases and prevent terrorist attacks.
Technology firms claim that encryption is the very key to protecting its users from hackers.
What was the outcome?
The court hearing was postponed after the government told that it had found a third-party to unlock the iPhone. Reports say that it was an Israeli firm “Cellebrite.” However, it was never confirmed by the authorities.
Later, the Department of Justice informed that it had managed to access the device in question and asked the attending judge to dismiss the case. The FBI did not comment on the “technical aspects” of how they managed to unlock the iPhone device or the third-party that was involved.
Who won the trial?
It appears to be the bizarre situation. Apple stood grounds in defending the civil liberties.
Apple response to the FBI in the closing statement, “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.”
Is this the end of it all?
The case may have ended, but the hot debate over encryption has started on the national and international level, and security experts are debating on forums and panels for the protection and privacy of the public.
image credits: CNN