The United States Department of Justice (FBI) officially dropped their case against Apple. The Department of Justice was able to access data on the encrypted iPhone with help from a third party.
In a motion to vacate, the DOJ stated that “The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple Inc. mandated by Court’s Order Compelling Apple Inc. to Assist Agents in the Search dated February 16, 2016.”
This decision is sparking another debate, about whether the government should reveal their method – and the vulnerability – to Apple so they can strengthen security on the iPhone. Per an Engadget article, the government said this information is classified.
This development is good news, as the government did not forced Apple to unlock the iPhone or create new encryption-breaking technologies. Nor did they succeeded in setting a precedent about accessing encrypted information. We should be cautious in seeing this as a victory, however, as the government was still able to access the information, and the question about their right to do so remains unanswered. It’s unlikely the encryption battle is over.