Although the Justice Department withdrew its request for Apple to help it hack into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, a similar court case elsewhere is still ongoing.
In a letter today, DoJ said that it still wants Apple’s help to access data on an iPhone used by Jun Feng, a meth dealer.
In February, a magistrate judge in Brooklyn ruled that the government couldn’t force Apple to help break into Feng’s iPhone, and questioned whether the government’s legal rationale – an old law called the All Writs Act – was sufficient to compel Apple to break its own security.
The government challenged that ruling. Today, the government indicated that it still believes it needs Apple’s help to get into Feng’s iPhone.
“The government’s application is not moot and the government continues to require Apple’s assistance in accessing the data that it is authorized to search by warrant,” U.S. attorneys wrote.
While the Brooklyn case and the San Bernardino case are not exact parallels, they are very similar, and it is possible that information about the hack that the FBI used to get into the San Bernardino iPhone might come out as the government pursues Apple’s assistance in the Feng case.
A law enforcement official later said that the San Bernardino method won’t work on Feng’s iPhone.
An Apple attorney speaking on condition of anonyminity said that Apple will challenge the government’s appeal, and expects to file a response next Thursday.
Here’s the full letter: