Why is Apple still being asked to unlock iPhone by the US government

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 11, 2016 10:24 IST
Prosecutors are still asking for Apple’s co-operation to unlock iPhones (Apple)

Apple has been asked to unlock more iPhones, this time involved in cases from Boston and Brooklyn. These demands have been made shortly after, FBI dropped the case against them after they managed to unlock an iPhone 5c without Apple’s help.

While Apple has helped the authorities access data on iPhones before, CEO Tim Cook took a stand against the FBI’s request for a universal key that would let them into any iPhone.

Eventually, the FBI did manage to unlock the iPhone 5c without Apple’s help and dropped the case against the phone maker. However, the method FBI acquired to unlock iPhones is valid only specific models of iPhone and the iPhone 5s -- evidence for the Brooklyn case -- can’t be unlocked using the same method.

According to a report in the New York Times, the technological solution found in the San Bernardino case would not work to get into the phone of the Brooklyn drug dealer, which has a different operating system.

“In this case, we still need Apple’s help in accessing the data, which they have done with little effort in at least 70 other cases when presented with court orders for comparable phones running iOS 7 or earlier operating systems,” said a Justice Department spokesperson.

So, prosecutors are asking for Apple’s co-operation to unlock the iPhone. But with the bitterness lingering from the court case, Apple sees this request as a recurring pattern. Especially, when the court case reached a point where Apple employees contemplated quitting before they build a back-door into their own security features.

Addressing the Spring Event, Cook started the evening by calling for a discussion on the topic of our privacies and how much control the authorities should have over it.

A lawyer for Apple told NYT that, that prosecutors were pushing the case not because of the value of the information in the phone, but rather to set a precedent that could be used to get into other locked iPhones.

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