Apple could use Brooklyn case to pursue details about FBI iPhone hack: source

Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:12am EDT
 
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By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - If the U.S. Department of Justice asks a New York court to force Apple Inc to unlock an iPhone, the technology company could push the government to reveal how it accessed the phone which belonged to a shooter in San Bernardino, a source familiar with the situation said.

The Justice Department will disclose over the next two weeks whether it will continue with its bid to compel Apple to help access an iPhone in a Brooklyn drug case, according to a court filing on Tuesday.

The Justice Department this week withdrew a similar request in California, saying it had succeeded in unlocking an iPhone used by one of the shooters involved in a rampage in San Bernardino in December without Apple's help.

The legal dispute between the U.S. government and Apple has been a high-profile test of whether law enforcement should have access to encrypted phone data.

Apple, supported by most of the technology industry, says anything that helps authorities bypass security features will undermine security for all users. Government officials say that all kinds of criminal investigations will be crippled without access to phone data.

Prosecutors have not said whether the San Bernardino technique would work for other seized iPhones, including the one at issue in Brooklyn. Should the Brooklyn case continue, Apple could pursue legal discovery that would potentially force the FBI to reveal what technique it used on the San Bernardino phone, the source said.

A Justice Department representative did not have immediate comment.

In a statement, Apple said "we don't know" the FBI's technical solution, which vendor developed it or "what it allegedly achieves."   Continued...

 
The Apple Store is seen in Santa Monica, California, United States, February 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson