The FBI have withdrawn their court case against Apple whose refusal to fully assist them in their “Fight against terror” polarised opinion.Apple believed that the original court-order was unreasonable and invalid. The FBI believed that the obtaining full access to the information on the iPhone was a matter of national security and that Apple was the only organisation that could help them.
This set the scene for an important battle between the US government and a major corporation with the protection of privacy and not profit (so we’re told) at its core.
In the end we’re none the wiser. The FBI were wrong in so much as cracking an iPhone doesn’t require Apple’s help at all. As reported by the BBC an independent third-party has unlocked the iPhone revealing all of its secrets.
Apple’s case is a weak one. The balance between civil liberties, law enforcement and national security has already been struck. It is accepted that with proper authority, law enforcement agencies may access the home, the work-place, computers, bank accounts, telephone records and subject individuals to intimate searches.
Does Apple and its iPhone deserve special consideration?
As the use of strong encryption to protect our personal data increases there can be no doubt that similar cases will be brought by governments around the world.