By Robert A. Vella
The FBI and Department of Justice dropped their case against Apple Inc. on Monday which had ordered the tech company to hack into its own software to make available the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone data for their criminal investigation. The surprise move by the DOJ has left observers on both sides of the dispute scratching their heads in confusion today. Tough-minded law enforcement advocates are disappointed because there are other pending criminal investigations seeking legal access to iPhone data which is protected by its security features. Privacy advocates are concerned because the FBI recently announced it had successfully hacked into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, and Apple is now demanding that the FBI tell them how it was done.
Something smells very “fishy” about this case, and at least one of the parties involved doesn’t seem to be completely truthful on the matter. Here’s what we do know:
- The FBI claims it hacked into Syed Farook’s iPhone, but isn’t saying how they did it.
- Both Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik were killed during the shooting. So, the FBI’s investigation cannot be related to any immediate criminal prosecution and can only be concerned with possible connections to outside terrorist groups such as ISIS. However, all the evidence discovered so far shows no direct involvement by outside groups. It appears this couple was inspired by ISIS, but perpetrated the attack on their own accord.
- The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, has obviously prioritized counter-terrorism and national security interests over constitutional protections for personal privacy and civil rights. It’s also obvious that the federal government sees increasingly sophisticated encryption techniques, like those developed by Apple, as a threat to its ability to conduct mass cyber-surveillance operations.
- Apple has said all along that it is “cooperating” with the FBI’s investigation. How extensive their cooperation has been isn’t exactly clear.
Dear readers, you are free to speculate.