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The US Justice Department (US DoJ) claims to have successfully unlocked the iPhone used by one the San Bernardino shooters and dropped its impending legal case against Apple, reports Reuters. The report states the US DoJ tied up with an ‘unidentified outside party’ which presented a technique to unlock the iPhone.

Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) filed an order asking Apple to unlock the iPhone used by the attacker. The order is based on a 227 year old All Writs Act, which gives courts power to issue orders that do not fall under a pre-existing law. In response, Apple CEO Tim Cook published a letter on Apple’s website, which stated that the company would challenge the order.

The iPhone has a PIN authentication security feature which automatically wipes user data on a certain number of unsuccessful tries. The attacker’s phone used this feature, and to disable it, Apple would essentially have to create an alternate operating system that bypassed this security measure and push it as an update. However, this code could then be used to unlock other iPhones as well, and it would be extremely hard to limit it to one device.

Apple’s statement: Apple issued a response to the recent development stating that it had objected to FBI’s demand to build a backdoor into the iPhone because it believed “it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent”. “As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought,” added Apple.

iPhone backdoor undermines encryption: Cook had pointed out that the Government could “extend this breach (backdoor access) of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

Support for Apple
– Earlier, an UN human rights official spoke out in support of Apple , warning that US officials risked opening a “Pandora’s Box” in the case against Apple that could infringe the rights of users worldwide and ease the way for authoritarian rulers and criminal hackers.

-Similarly, the Electronics Frontier Foundation also came out in support for Apple, citing “the government is asking Apple to create a master key so that it can open a single phone. And once that master key is created, we’re certain that our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security.”

-In February, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith came out in support for Apple stating that the company  “wholeheartedly” supports Apple in the ongoing case against the FBI.

Tech companies to strengthen encryption: Multiple tech companies like Apple, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google and Snapchat, have reportedly been working on a privacy technology to add further encryption on user data and information. WhatsApp plans to encrypt voice calls, while Facebook’s Messenger is considering upping its security as well, Snapchat is also working on a secure messaging system, and Google on encrypted email.

Read: Developments & timeline of the Apple v/s FBI suit

Image Source: Pixabay