A court order allowed the Federal Bureau of Investigations to “unlock” the iPhone owned by the San Bernardino School shooter without assistance from Apple.
With the cooperation of an overseas Information Technology Company, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) was able to unlock the phone belonging to the San Bernardino Shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, a United States Citizen of Pakistani descent, who at December 2, 2015, killed 22 people and injured several more in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.
The company, who refused to be named, has sole legal ownership of the technique used to unlock the terrorist’s phone, and thus making it unlikely that the technique will be disclosed by the government to Apple or any private Cell phone repair institutions, according to an Obama Administration source.
Though the White House have a procedure for reviewing technology and security flaws that allows them to decide which ones to ne shared to the public, they are not set up to handle or reveal flaws that are discovered and owned by private companies, said the source. This raised question among legislators regarding the effectiveness of the so-called Vulnerabilities Equities Process.
The secretive process was created with the purpose of letting various government interests debate amongst themselves about issues and processes to be done with a given technology flaw rather than leaving them to agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA) which generally prefers to keep such technological vulnerabilities secret so that they can use them for the agencies’ benefit.
The government’s efforts to force Apple in assisting them to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone sparked a national issue aboue security and privacy. Apple had been keen on user privacy ever since the iCloud hacking that released several personal photos of celebrities to the internet. The debate raged for two weeks after the Justice Department announced that they had broken into the terrorist’s phone without Apple’s consent or assistance.
The FBI argued that their move to outsource the iPhone unlocking was due to the fact that Apple had declined their request for assistance regarding unlocking the phone, which could reveal several evidence against the terrorists and possibly divulge plans for more terrorist activity. They also argued that they won a court order compelling the Silicion Valley icon to break into the device, which Apple still denied.
Apple is backed by much of the tech industry regarding the phone breaking event, who complained that the order would in effect make businesses, not just in the Information Technology industry, arms of the state.