The FBI found a way to hack into the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone after Apple refused to comply with a court order, the ACLU found a long list of cases where the FBI is trying to force Apple help unlock iPhones, and now it's using the undisclosed hack to unlock an iPhone in an Arkansas homicide investigation. So much for just this phone, just this once.
The FBI and DOJ want easy access to all iPhones, not just one
The current situation started in early December 2015 when Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, both San Bernardino County Department of Public Health employees, opened fire on their coworkers. They killed 14 and injured 22 more, then died in a shootout with police who recovered a work-issued iPhone Mr. Farook used.
Apple helped the FBI recover data from the iPhone's backups, but didn't have any way to bypass the device's lockscreen passcode. The FBI turned to the courts for an order compelling Apple to create a hackable version of iOS they insisted would be used only once and just on this specific iPhone.
Apple contested the order calling it an overreach of government authority, and a move that would set a dangerous precedent where law enforcement agencies could compel companies to develop tools to bypass their own product's built-in encryption and security measures. Apple also said creating the hackable iPhone operating system was dangerous because it would eventually find its way to other governments as well as hackers, potentially threatening the security of encrypted communications, bank transactions, and more.
The FBI and Department of Justice stood by their claim this would be a one-off deal, and that they did have the authority to force Apple to code a new version of iOS thanks to the All Writs Act from 1789. Apple filed a motion to vacate the order along with a formal complaint, and both sides stood firm in their positions.
Next up: The FBI's just-one-phone argument crumbles