DOJ Drops Its Case Against Apple After Breaking Into San Bernardino iPhone

The Department of Justice has officially dropped its case against Apple to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone after they government found a way to hack into the phone without the tech company’s help.

According to BuzzFeed News, a law enforcement official said that the FBI found a method to unlock the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter, Syed Rizwan Farook. This meant that the government no longer needs Apple’s help to break into the phone. Instead, with the help of a third party, the FBI figured out how to unlock an iPhone 5C running iOS 9. Since the case has been dropped, we won't get a legal answer to whether cyber security or national security is more important for now.

The law enforcement official added that this information is still “premature to say anything about our abilities to access other phones.” The third party that helped unlocking the phone remains unknown, but many have speculated that the help may have come from outside the U.S. 

Apple said in a statement that the “case should never have been brought” to court due to a dangerous precedent it could set in the tech community, according to a statement reprinted by The Verge. The Washington Post reported that if the order to compel Apple to unlocking the iPhone in the case stood, then the company would have had to create software to disable phone security—a backdoor to unlocking the phone that could be discovered by hackers and similar cyber threats. 

Aaron Levie, CEO of the cloud company Box, said he didn’t see a winner despite the FBI’s withdrawal of the case, according to The Washington Post. “This entire experience has brought to the fore a much bigger problem that remains unresolved.”

“The lawsuit may be over, but the Constitutional and privacy questions it raised are not," Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said, according to USA Today.

This case put civil rights and privacy at odds with national security, leading to a tricky and ongoing issue. With several more cases in courts attempting to compel Apple into unlocking 12 more devices, the legal battle is far from over between the tech giant and the government.