The long-running Apple vs. the FBI encryption case may no longer be going to court, but that doesn’t mean that the fallout and drama has come to an end. The government law enforcement agency may have officially announced that it will no longer pursue Apple through the legal system for the company’s assistance in unlocking an iPhone 5c, but it’s also now being reported that the FBI has agreed to assist in the unlocking of an iPhone and iPod involved in an ongoing homicide case in Arkansas.
The reported assistance comes just days after the FBI announced that it had managed to gain access to the iPhone 5c belonging to one of San Bernardino shooters without the intervention and assistance of Tim Cook’s Apple Inc. Gaining access to the device meant that the FBI no longer required Apple’s help in obtaining data, and therefore instantly dropped the case against the iPhone maker. It seems that the federal agency now believes itself to be something of an expert in the extraction of data and has offered that expertise to the Arkansas prosecutor in another case.
The request to the FBI was made by the office of Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney, Cody Hiland, in association with the Conway Police Department. It would be extremely hypocritical of the FBI to aggressively pursue Apple in an attempt to force the company to unlock the iPhone 5c but then deny this particular request for assistance from a fellow law enforcement agency. It’s for that reason that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has agreed to unlock an iPhone and iPod touch belonging to two teenagers who are accused of killing a couple in Little Rock in July of last year.
Lawyers representing the two accused have gone on record as saying that they are “not concerned” about the contents of the iPhone and iPod touch, but it’ll be extremely interesting to see if Apple gets involved in the case with any type of official statement.
For obvious reasons, additional information pertaining to the case can’t be given out at the moment whilst it’s still under investigation, but the prosecuting attorney involved has confirmed that the FBI agreed to provide assistance almost instantly by responding positively to the request in less than twenty-four hours.
It remains unclear whether the iPhone in this particular case is an iPhone 5c or a different model. While the FBI has gone on record to say that the method it used to crack the iPhone 5c was only applicable on that particular phone, it wouldn’t reflect too well on Apple if the FBI manages to get into a different iPhone model in this ongoing case.
It will be interesting to see if Apple will be able to close the exploit being used by the FBI to unlock these older iPhones. The bigger challenge for Apple will be to get details on this exploit being used, and the FBI is unlikely to provide Apple any details on it.
(Source: ABC News)
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