After a long and drawn-out battle, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it is formally withdrawing all charges against Apple on Monday, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation stated that it managed to successfully find a means to access the data on an iPhone 5c that was owned by one of the terrorists in December's San Bernardino shooting incident.
According to the FBI, the code that was used to effectively hack into the contents of the notorious iPhone 5c of San Bernardino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook was brought into the agency by an unidentified entity. The code, as the FBI described, allowed investigators to explore the contents of the smartphone without compromising any of its data.
The FBI and Apple have been in a bitter legal spat after the government agency demanded that the tech giant create a means to unlock an iPhone that was used by Farook before initiating December's terrorist attack. Though the purpose of the requested code was rooted to an ongoing criminal investigation, Apple was quick to respond that creating a code to unlock the locked smartphone might open a door to new and bigger problems concerning security and privacy. For one, it might end up creating a massive security backdoor that could very well be exploited in the near future.
With the FBI finally being able to create its own code, a new set of questions and concerns have been raised, including the ability of mainstream tech manufacturers such as Apple to provide secure devices to consumers. Apple's lawyers have announced that the tech giant would ask the FBI about the code that was used to hack the phone, but of course, the possibility of the government declaring the code as classified exists.
Esha Bhandari, a staff lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, believes that the government might very well declare the code as classified.
"From a legal standpoint, what happened in the San Bernardino case doesn't mean the fight is over. I would hope they would give that information to Apple so that it can patch any weaknesses, but if the government classifies the tool, that suggests it may not," she said.
As for Apple, the tech giant has released a statement about the withdrawal of the case, asserting its point that the case should never have been pursued in the first place.
"This case should never have been brought. We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated. This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy," Apple said.
Despite revealing that it has already managed to hack the contents of the terrorist's iPhone 5c, the FBI has not revealed any information that it managed to gather from the device so far.