This is a complicated story that basically NO ONE is reporting correctly on.
First, its important to remember that there were 3 phones in the case of the San Bernadino shooters. Two personal phones, which the shooters distroyed before they were killed in a shootout with officials and the infamous iPhone 5C that was actually issued to one of the shooters by his GOVERNMENT job. Yea, he worked for a US govermnet agency. I can’t remember which one, and I don’t feel like looking it up. The probabily that there was ANY sensitive or relevant information on his iPhone issued by his government employer was very VERY low.
Second, encryption. Yes, the data on the iPhone is heavily encryped but the pass code to get into the phone is only 4 digits (in all likelyhood) and that means in 10,000 tries you can get into the phone. Not to secure, but because we want to CONVIENTLY get to our data most people choose the 4 digit code.
Apple on the other hand has a failsafe that only allows 10 tries to get into the phone for EXACTLY this reason and that was what the FBI wanted Apple to disable.
By some accounts the FBI has nearly 200 iPhones that they wanted Apple to unlock and it is MY estimation, as well as many others believing, that THIS phone, or rather, THIS case was the one that would garner public support and rally the public behind the FBI and get Apple to “do the right thing”.
For the record, I’m 100% with Tim Cook on this and I don’t want the Goverment to be able to crack my phone, not because I have some terrorist plots hidden in it but because of the 4th Amendment which is part of the Constitution which, I for one, still believe in.
I think that when the public and tech community started backing Tim Cook the FBI Director James Comey realized they were fighting a lame battle and that they were going to back off. So on Sunday March 20th they request a delay in the court proceedings and said, “we may have another way into the phone”.
Why? Because the FBI doesn’t want to look like they allowed a corporate giant to stand them down and win. That’s bad PR for the US government.
Instead they come up with the other story… “uh… never mind, we found some company in Israel… got into the phone”, which, read above, MORE THAN LIKELY had no good intel in it anyway, “and we don’t need to bother Apple about this”.
So… in doing so, the FBI saves face and they simultaneously “shame” Apple becaue now Apple’s secure iPhones seems much less secure. But hey… its an older 5C… right?
So… What now?
I don’t really know. But I sincerely don’t think that the FBI is either A. IN the shooters phone, or B. that there was any actionable data in the phone either way.
I do know that Apples hardware AND software is more secure today then the 5C was and that the FBI will rear its ugly head again, probably after a school shooting where a bunch of children die and the shooter was more tech savy and had a iPhone 7ex or something… This case is not over. They’ll be back.