As we reported last week, this has been a big week for Apple. The Cupertino-based firm has already delighted us with the specs of the new 4” iPhone SE and downright astonished us with its very accessible £359 (starting) price tag.
However it should have been a bigger week than it actually turned out to be as the day after the Apple Event and the iPhone SE unveiling Apple were due in court to tackle the big guns of the FBI and the US Government. Apple was, of course, being taken to court due to its refusal to co-operate in the unlocking of an iPhone that may contain important information regarding one of the San Bernardinho shooters.
The case is not so black and white as that though and it has brought divisions between those who support the FBI’s position and those who respect Apple’s stance on privacy. The two sides were set to do battle in the courtroom but then…they didn’t.
The FBI gets its way
Instead, the FBI called for a postponement of the court case less than 24 hours before the two sides were due to state their cases. The reason for this was because (quite suspiciously it must be said) they feel that they have found an alternative method to crack the iPhone without Apple’s help.
The FBI is said to be working with an Israeli software solutions firm, Cellebrite who may have a way to crack the iPhone by using a mirroring technique to effectively use brute force to get past the iPhone’s password encryption. If it works it means that Apple will not have to go to court to defend their case, thus keeping their moral integrity intact but of course it will mean that the FBI and therefore potentially other governments and groups will have a way to crack the iPhone.
The FBI has defended its rather abrupt postponement of proceedings with FBI Director James Comey stating that “We tried everything we could think of, asked everybody we thought might be able to help — inside and outside the government — before bringing the litigation in San Bernardino.” Whether this is to be believed is a different question entirely but it does show that the FBI did not want to risk going to court with Apple and coming away empty handed.
April 5th – the new D-Day
The FBI has until April 5th to work with Cellebrite (and any other 3rd party company for that matter) to open the iPhone before the court date should be re-scheduled. This case then is far from over and it will be very interesting to see Apple’s reaction if Cellebrite is successful in its attempts to unlock the device in question.
Apple has yet to comment on the new turn of events but there may well be further twists and turns in this the closer we get to the deadline which has been set by the court.