After a very public back-and-forth between Apple and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation over the possibility of being forced to code in backdoor government access for iOS devices, the government has withdrawn its case.
It's a victory for Apple in the sense that the above possibility won't come to fruition here, and Apple won't be legally compelled to create a backdoor for government requests to hack iPhones of alleged criminals. On the other hand, the FBI is pulling this particular case because it claims that it was able to access the data through other means.
How it was done isn't immediately clear, but it's likely that the FBI found its own hackers to get the job done. Just last week, the FBI cancelled a court showdown only hours in advance, claiming that an "outside party" had offered a method to crack the iPhone 5c in question. Now, it appears, that has been confirmed, however there's no word on what data was pulled or how useful it will be.
Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook posted an open letter to consumers saying that protecting private data was of the utmost importance to the company, which is why it was holding firm against the request by the FBI. The government requested access to the phone of Syed Farook, a gunman behind the December mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
Public opinion has been very split, but fellow tech giants have backed Apple's stance on the matter, and Cook again addressed the issue at last week's event for the iPhone SE and 9.7in iPad Pro. Just hours later, the FBI pulled back on the case, claiming the aforementioned alternate access method.
For now, this case is resolved, at least as far as Apple is concerned. But knowing that it's possible to crack a locked iPhone certainly shouldn't make them feel that much better. On the other hand, is anyone naive enough to think that governments can't find the means to crack even advanced encryption?
We heard recently that Apple was reportedly planning to clamp down further on security measures going forward to keep out both hackers and governments seeking private data, so maybe a longer-term solution is already in progress here.