The FBI found a way to access the data on Syed Farook's iPhone, so it dropped its case to force Apple to create a hackable version of iOS. Apple has responded by saying the FBI shouldn't have filed its case in the first place.
Apple condemns FBI iPhone unlock fight
Apple's statement on the iPhone unlocking case:
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.
The FBI obtained a Federal court order compelling Apple to create a version of the iPhone operating system that removed the built-in safeguards preventing a brute force attack on the lock screen passcode so it could hack into Mr. Farook's iPhone and access encrypted data. The iPhone was recovered after Mr. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were killed in a police shootout after they gunned down their San Bernardino County coworkers last December.
Apple's safeguards can automatically destroy the data on iOS devices after ten failed passcode attempts, which the FBI wanted to avoid. Apple resisted making the FBI's version of iOS arguing it was an overreach of government authority and would set a dangerous precedent where companies would be forced to break their own encryption routinely.
The two were scheduled for a hearing last Tuesday, but the FBI asked to put it on hold at the last minute because an unnamed third party surfaced with a way to access the encrypted data on Mr. Farook's iPhone. The FBI informed the court yesterday it had, in fact, gained access to the data and that it was dropping its fight to get what Apple was calling GovtOS.
Apple condemned the FBI in its statement, and also made it clear future products will be even more secure. In essence, Apple is saying it values privacy and security over the government's push for back doors into our encrypted data.
It's interesting that the FBI insisted only a few weeks ago it had exhausted all possibilities for accessing Mr. Farook's data and that the only option was for Apple to make a hackable version of iOS. Now the FBI has dropped its court fight with Apple essentially saying, "Never mind. We've got this."
Considering the FBI did find a way to get at the iPhone's data without Apple's help says all other options hadn't been exhausted. Despite the FBI's insistance to the contrary, it's been pretty obvious this case was more about setting a precedent than getting into Mr. Farook's iPhone—and the next time the FBI or DOJ turn to the courts for an order compelling a company to work around its own security measures it's going to me much harder to take that at face value.