After unlocking an iPhone discovered in connection with the San Bernardino terror attacks without Apple’s assistance last month, the FBI has managed to crack a second device – this time, it was an iPhone 5S used by a drug dealer in New York.
However, unlike the San Bernardino incident in which the agency had to spend over a million dollars to crack the device, the government said in a court filing that it had obtained a passcode that it used to unlock the iPhone in the Brooklyn case.
As such, it withdrew its request for a court order to get Apple’s assistance in the matter.
It’s worth noting that the filing mentions the passcode came from ‘an individual’, but doesn’t specify who that might be.
While the FBI may indeed have been able to gain access to the data on two iPhones this year, it’s not likely that it will let Apple off the hook in the ongoing legal battle over people’s right to privacy and the company’s duty to grant backdoor access to its devices.
In a statement issued to Reuters, Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said that the cases have “never been about setting a court precedent; they are about law enforcement’s ability and need to access evidence on devices pursuant to lawful court orders and search warrants.”
There are still more than 1,000 iPhones in police custody that law enforcement can’t break into, and it isn’t likely that they’ll all be easy to crack. Since the Brooklyn warrant request was made last October, the US has demanded Apple’s help in at least 10 more cases to break into iOS devices.