“Thanks -- we’re good.” After months of battling Apple, that’s basically what the feds just told the tech giant. According to a new court filing, the FBI successfully broke into the San Bernardino shooters’ iPhone without Apple’s help.
“The government … no longer requires the assistance from Apple,” the filing notes.
So what now?
Well, if you believe critics who think Apple was simply using the case to build its brand, then you might call it a win for everyone.
Apple -- and especially CEO Tim Cook -- appear righteous for standing up to “the man”; the media got its story; and the FBI got its data.
Of course, it’s not that simple.
Because Apple and the Department of Justice failed to resolve their disagreement, it leaves open the likelihood of similar court challenges on the matters of cyber-security and encryption. In fact, there are currently at least a dozen similar legal fights open against Apple, The Guardian estimates.
As for consumers, well, that all depends on their idea of privacy rights and expectations.
Some commentators suggest that this latest development makes Apple look weak in the eyes of the public. Yet my sense is that most people simply appreciate the company’s efforts to protect their data.
Just because the government (reportedly with the help of a third party) can hack into an iPhone, I don’t think most folks will conclude that their personal data is unsecure or at risk.
I also think most people would concede that there are certain cases in which the feds should have the right to seize personal data.
To find out whether or not the courts share that sentiment, we’ll just have to wait for the next case.