Despite the popularity of the Apple vs. the Government encryption story in the news recently, the Justice Department admitted to a California court that the agency could, in all likelihood, hack into the iPhone 5c that had been in possession of one of the San Bernardino shooters without Apple’s help. By Judge Sheri Pym staying her previous order to demand that Apple assist the FBI in unlocking the phone, Apple has earned a short-lived victory with the longevity of that win depending, of course, on how the postponed hearing turns out. But with the announcement that the FBI may not need Apple to break into the phone, the ruling may prove moot. The company apparently assisting the government in unlocking the iPhone is, in fact, is Israeli tech firm Cellebrite which has previous experience in working with the FBI. However, the process that may successfully unlock the phone without creating new iOS software remains unclear.
Many wonder why the FBI would bother going through the trouble of legal processes in order to force Apple to cooperate with it if it is actually true that the organization has been capable of hacking the San Bernardino phone the entire time. According to Chenxi Wang, chief strategy officer for Twistlock, “from the beginning, this case was about setting a legal precedent – not about gaining access to data.” The question then becomes whether or not the FBI has given up setting a legal precedence with the case, and whether that means it will look towards a third-party agency for assistance.