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Can the Government Order Apple to Crack Your iPhone Passcode?

An order was issued today by a federal judge requiring Apple to assist with efforts to bypass the encryption on an iPhone 5C belonging to one of the terrorists who carried out the attacks in San Bernardino, CA this past December. See this article in the Washingon Post. This bit of e-discovery news in the headlines tonight is interesting for a few different reasons. One, it proves that the government, even in a high profile criminal matter that involves a national security danger, still can't find a way to hack into the iPhone - or at least one running iOS 9. Second, the news articles point out that more than ten incorrect attempts to enter the passcode for an iPhone will wipe out the data on the smartphone. Third, a magistrate judge with the California Central District Court has found a basis under the All Writs Act to demand that a company create customized malware for the specific purpose of accessing encrypted data. Lastly, some experts believe the decision may be used as a basis for future decisions allowing the government to direct phone or software companies to secretly install programs to gather private information. See the PC World article here.

The order can be view here. Note that is also requires Apple to prevent software on the device from causing additional delays between passcode attempts. It's also notable that the order specifies that ultimate responsibility for evidence preservation rests with the Government, not Apple.

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