Apple’s fight against the laws of the United States gained a reprieve when the FBI was able to open an iPhone that had been used by a terrorist prior to the San Bernardino terrorist attack, when a third party hacked the iPhone. Apple, who had previously stated that they were fighting for the consumers security seemed to take this as a win, since they did not have to open the phone themselves. Yet the phone was still opened, in a matter of days, as opposed to the months which Apple stated their own engineers would need.
But the battle was not over.
There was a case involving a Brooklyn drug dealer, whom had already plead guilty to drug charges and was already imprisoned. The government wished to gain entry in to his iPhone for further investigation in to the drug conspiracy case. Again, Apple refused to open the phone. Different from the San Bernardino case, this phone utilized an older operating system. A system which Apple had previously opened for the government many times. Where Apple had claimed in the San Bernardino case, that they would need to make a new OS to gain entry, they did not have to do this with this phone. It might be important to note that wasn’t actually needed in the San Bernardino case as well. Yet Apple refused.
Apple’s refusal is based on their stance that they shouldn’t be required to open iPhones for the government. While continuing to state this decision is based on user privacy, the outcome of the previous case nullifies this argument, furthermore, this drug case shows that even though Apple can do it, and has done it, they are still refusing to comply with the request, and then a court order.
In the case of the admitted drug dealer, the judge had previously ruled for Apple stating that Apple should not have to open a device. And the appeal process began. Yet Thursday, the government withdrawn their request. The request was withdrawn because the iPhone was opened. This phone wasn’t opened by any hacking means though. No, in this case, some unnamed party simply gave the authorities the passcode.
And now we wait. The two most imminent cases between Apple and the government have now been resolved with no clear decision. There are a multitude of other phones which will no doubt become the next iPhone to hit the public spotlight. And we shall watch as countless dollars are spent on these trials as the government tries to enforce the laws of the United States, while Apple attempts to evade providing assistance in cases of lawful access.
At what point will the government decide to take on Apple based not on a single phone but on their policy? At what point will Apple decide that news of iPhone after iPhone being opened without their help will be detrimental to their marketing? At what point will companies such as Apple and Whatsapp thumbing their nose at the laws of the United States lead to laws and actions against encryption that will place law abiding citizens security at risk? I’m unsure of the first two questions, but the third question can be answered. We’re past that point. These actions are already leading to legislature being drafted about encryption now. As a consumer, I’m horrified by what may be coming down the road pertaining to our digital privacy all thanks to the actions of companies that are only now pretending to care about our privacy.