Justice Dept. to Apple: Never Mind on That Encryption Thing, Maybe

In the 11th hour, feds ask to delay court hearing over access to terrorist's work phone.


"Ohhhh. I thought they wanted to take over the game show 'Password.'"

Remember how the FBI and the Department of Justice insisted it needed Apple's help trying to break through the passcode of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook's iPhone without deleting the phone's contents?

Maybe not.

The DOJ and Apple were supposed to meet in court again tomorrow for another round of fighting on this issue. But now the DOJ has asked for and has been granted a court delay. They may have found a way to break into the phone without using the courts to try to force Apple to violate its own security measures to help them. From Politico:

"On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook's iPhone," federal prosecutors said in a filing Monday afternoon. "Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook's iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. ("Apple") set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case."

"Accordingly, to provide time for testing the method, the government hereby requests that the hearing set for March 22, 2016 be vacated," government lawyers wrote.

That's some remarkable timing there! The FBI and DOJ have been insistent that there was no way to break into the phone without Apple's forced assistance. Yet, many have wondered whether that claim was true and whether there was nobody in, say, the National Security Agency (NSA), that could help break into the phone.

But it has also been obvious that this case was a test run for the government. If the feds could force Apple to assist in breaking its security to grant access to the work phone of a dead terrorist, then there were dozens of other phones they could demand access to. It was very clear this phone was chosen due to the circumstances of the case, hoping to avoid discussion of the larger issue. And yet, the feds have not done very well in the public relations campaign on this one. Every single notable tech and online communication company has lined up behind Apple to protect consumer security.

More on the Apple encryption case here. Stay tuned. Even if the Justice Dept. succeeds in breaking into Farook's phone without Apple's help, Congress is looking to draft legislation to control federal access to encrypted communication, and we'll definitely want to keep an eye out for the text of the bill. The draft legislation should be released any day now.

NEXT: Bill Clinton Says Very Bill Clinton Things on Campaign Trail for Hillary

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  1. *encrypted comment*

    1. The crow flies at midnight.

      1. The euphemism masturbates these days.

        1. Why would a euphemism masturbate? I thought he could get the chicks.

          1. The early word gets the berm.

            1. #FeeltheBerm

              1. I’m not a big fan of fat chicks.

      2. There is a fire at the insurance agency.

      3. The draft legislation should be released any day now.

      4. Many happy bluebirds singing at your windowsill.

      5. The chair is against the wall.

      6. Some real spy shit. Shortwave recordings. Hypnotic and fascinating.


    2. *encrypted comment*

      “American Megatrends ? 2016”

  2. The only reason they would back off is if they thought they would lose. They don’t want a bad precedent.

    I guarantee they will try again when they feel they’ve got a better shot.

    1. They know they’ll lose. It’s been proven that they have the tech to do this on their own.

      1. If they don’t have the tech to do this we’ve wasted a lot of money.

        1. And if they do have the tech to do this, we’ve wasted a lot of money anyway.

    2. If Justice tries to drop the case, Apple should ask the judge to convert it to a declaratory judgment precisely so we can get a court ruling and guidance for future cases.

      “There is no better time to kick someone, than when they are already down.”

      1. Would you explain that process? That’s an interesting idea.

        1. It has been explained. You need mansplaining?

          1. Terrible. Therefore, brilliant.

  3. Well, I lose. I wasn’t expecting this until next week. This offsets their piss poor product reveal today.

    1. $50 off AppleWatch! It’s en fuego!!!

      1. Eh. Not what I was after. I set up a lever that earns me $100 for every penny that Apple goes down. We could have had something beautiful.

        Ah, well. Deal is good until Thursday. Apparently, the financial market likes Jesus.

        1. Plenty of time. Patience.

          1. Jesus would be appalled at the idea of Good Friday.

            1. Would he be better with Bad Friday. Or Joe Friday?

              1. Definitely not T.G.I.F.

            2. Jesus would be appalled at the idea of Good Friday.

              Well, it’s not like it was such a great day for him in the first place.

              I would think getting nails drilled through your palms and feet to attach you to wood planks would appall you a bit more than the name of a religious holiday.

            3. “Jesus would be appalled at the idea of Good Friday.”

              It’s a short journey from impaled to appalled.

  4. Fucking
    Bunch of

    1. Fur

      1. For

  5. Congress is looking to draft legislation to control federal access to encrypted communication, and we’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for the text of the bill.

    I’ll be over here not holding my breath waiting to see if the bill isn’t a free pony for the feds, either upon passage or after the feds get done interpreting “thou shalt not” as “mi casa es su casa”.

  6. So much for the basic theory. Now, when he was at Pearl Harbor, he discovered something that, in retrospect, should have been profoundly disquieting. Namely, that ejaculations obtained in a whorehouse (i.e., provided by the ministrations of an actual human female) seemed to drop [sigma] below the level that Waterhouse could achieve through executing a Manual Override. In other words, the post-ejaculatory horniness level was not always equal to zero, as the naive theory propounded above assumes, but to some other quantity dependent upon whether the ejaculation was induced by Self or Other: [sigma] =[sigma sub self] after masturbation but [sigma]=[sigma sub other] upon leaving a whorehouse, where [sigma sub self] [sigma sub other] an inequality to which Waterhouse’s notable successes in breaking certain Nip naval codes at Station Hypo were directly attributable, in that the many convenient whorehouses nearby made it possible for him to go somewhat longer between ejaculations.

  7. Fucking government idiots.

    Why not just cut off the fingers of the dead terrorists and try them on the phone. Duh!

    1. Have they asked Siri where the cloud is located?

      1. There is no cloud…

        1. Yes there is, it’s next to the RAM.

          1. You owe me a new laptop. I just took out all the RAM, and I didn’t see any cloud. And now, when I try to boot it up, nothing happens!

            1. You need to boot it harder. Every hear of ‘percussive maintenance’?

        2. There is no spoon! It’s why I had a sandwich for lunch. What? Nevermind.

    1. When money has a negative time value, we’re in strange territory.

      1. It’s perfectly shows the actual competence level of the Top. Men. though.

    2. All is going to plan. For me.

      1. When betting on the gov’t’s incompetence, the problem is the guy trying to make a buck and saving their sorry asses in the process.
        I’d be short BART if I could, but then some clever engineer would show up with a $3 bullet-proof thyristor, save them, make some money, and I’d get the stinky end of the stick.

  8. Has the judge shown any inclination whatsoever to question the claim that the FBI just now discovered this new method which might obviate the need for enforcement of the original court order? Despite what you see on lawyer shows, last-minute surprise witnesses and newly discovered evidence aren’t usually warmly greeted in the courtroom – if there’s a hint that the FBI possessed this “new method” all along, it means they perhaps were filing false information with the court – misleading the judge at the least, committing some fairly serious obstruction of justice, perjury, malicious prosecution, that sort of thing even. I’m assuming Apple’s lawyers are on top of this sort of thing, but is the press on top of it?

    1. If that’s true then I hope Hilary wins the election because she is the only one who will bring such scofflaws to justice!

    2. “…but is the press on top of it?”

      Yeah, the same crack investigative reporters dogging the HRC ‘private server’ felonies. I look forward to excellent coverage. In a book in four or five years.
      Ever read “Winners, Losers and Microsoft”?

  9. we’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for the text of the bill.

    Will the text be encrypted?

    1. Grand Moff used to be a serious man, but now he believes the silliest things! Sad!

  10. They Beat Horses Don’t They

    A Trump protester beating on a police horse got a reprimand from PETA.

    Life has become a surrealist movie. Dali could not be reached for comment.

    1. Dali couldn’t be reached for comment because his telephone melted, and his ears were swarmed by ants.

    2. She has crazy eyes in the mug shot….don’t stick it in crazy.

    3. I went fishing with Salvador Dali once. He used a dotted line.

      Caught every other fish.

  11. Ars Technica has a discussion on the recent SC reversal . . . whatever on the idiotic MA ruling that the 2nd amendment *only* protects firearms.

    People keep arguing with me that precision in terminology *is not important for a legal debate*. That the precise meaning of assault rifle is of no importance – even to show that you understand something about the shit you want to ban.

    They don’t seem to want to address the points i made about UBC already in place being completely useless or that banning a low-powered rifle would do nothing to remove the large numbers of *high-powered* rifles still in existence.

    Hell, some of them even take issue with calling an AR-15 a low-powered rifle only suitable for hunting large varmints and dog-sized game.

  12. OT: I just came across a meme in my facebook feed that was a picture of rundown buildings with the text “Capitalism works so well that this is Detroit.” I give up on this world.

    1. How do they survive day to day?

  13. The Nation: Sure the Cuban government is censoring the internet, but at least they’re protecting Cubans from corporations

    ?? It is often assumed that Cubans want access to the Internet so they can log on to Facebook or other popular social media platforms. While Facebook has certainly been integrated into the digital repertoire of Internet-savvy Cubans, it only scratches the surface of the rich cultures of connectivity that have been gestating in Cuba for over a decade. Cubans have made use of the state-provided intranet as well as limited Internet access to create their own networks of consuming and sharing information both on and offline. Those networks could provide an alternative to the corporate-driven World Wide Web, given the right level of support.

    Although the national-bound intranet has been criticized by groups such as Freedom House for being a filter for the state to restrict what Cubans can and cannot see, it has actually been used by Cubans to develop local means of creating and sharing knowledge. One example of this is the Cuban version of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, called “EcuRed: Knowledge with all and for all” (found at http://www.ecured.cu). EcuRed says its goal is to “create and disseminate knowledge from a decolonizing, objective, and truthful point of view.”

    1. Rather than Cubans providing local content to Wikipedia, on EcuRed they create entries on both Cuban and non-Cuban themes for their own encyclopedia. EcuRed is run by the state, and controlled by moderators who are government employees, but participation is open to all Cubans who are willing to abide by its rules of neutrality in reference to controversial political themes. The moderators enforce these rules, and can delete or edit content and block registered users. Despite the obvious restrictions this places on content, it still offers Cubans relatively wide latitude to share information. To date, the site contains more than 155,000 articles, produced by tens of thousands of contributors.

      1. 154,963 of those articles are about how bitchin’ the Castros are.

    2. Disgusting

    3. The scary thing is this nitwit can’t write a coherent sentence and teaches at a University. Is Nation getting stupider? I only vist the links so my knowledge is limited.

      OT, here in Montana a 5th grade teacher had 3 of her snowflakes from the Missoula International School write a letter to the local rag gushing about, gaia, oil, of course recycling, not mention being mean to animals, blah, blah. That she attached her name shows they no longer fear the mask slipping.

      It won’t be long before the canoe goes over the waterfall.

    4. So the electronic version of the ‘ Bread lines are good because they bring people together’ argument. Sujatha is a cute little commie…it is a shame that she deserves a hard kick in the crotch from a heavy boot.

  14. Let me guess … they finally took the phone out of the Otterbox and found the passcode written on a piece of paper.

    1. Wasn’t that hard; they got the guy’s birthday.

      1. 1…2…3…4…5…

        Hey, that’s the same combination I have on my luggage!

        1. Not 666?

  15. So, Apple is like this:


    And the DoJ is like this:


      1. Holy shit, it’s Gillette!

        Do you know how obscure that is?

        That isn’t even her big hit, “Mr. Personality”.

  16. “But it has also been obvious that this case was a test run for the government. If the feds could force Apple to assist in breaking its security to grant access to the work phone of a dead terrorist, then there were dozens of other phones they could demand access to.”

    Oh, just because those are the obvious implications, that doesn’t mean any of this was on purpose. I’d be surprised if they were thinking that far ahead. The simplest explanation to me is that once it became public that the feds were demanding Apple’s assistance compliance, the feds couldn’t back down.

    Government bureaucrats are like that–they exist in a professional environment where their decisions are never questioned internally, and once their decisions are made public, they have to be defended by underlings at all costs.

    Maybe they never intended it to go this far. Maybe they weren’t thinking ahead. No one in the Justice Department is paid to think ahead. Why would they do that? You put your years in. Maybe you move to private practice if you’re a prosecutor. Maybe you get appointed to something bigger and better. Otherwise, you get your pension.

    1. Thinking ahead is for people who don’t work for the government. Most people who can think ahead avoid working for the government, and if they could think ahead when they got there, the other workers bees and their bosses grind that thinking ahead garbage out of them pretty quick. Thinking ahead is dangerous. Try to think ahead, and you could be wrong.

      And bureaucrats are never wrong. Part of that is because they’re unaccountable, but part of the reason they’re never wrong is also because they never think ahead.

    2. Government bureaucrats are like that–they exist in a professional environment where their decisions are never questioned internally, and once their decisions are made public, they have to be defended by underlings at all costs.

      This is not, strictly speaking, true.

      Internally, we repeatedly tell our ‘betters’ (the political appointees) that Plan X will not work and why. They respond by belittling us and telling us to do it anyway. Any unauthorized contact with the press is a firing offense (one museum scientist got fired for talking about butterflies with a reporter without preclearance. It didn’t even have anything to do with the stupid stuff the higher-ups were doing). So all you get out of the apparatus is the party line of “Plan X is wonderful and will do Y and Z too”. When it all falls apart, the rank and file are blamed for not being fully on board, and sometimes accused of sabotaging the plan.

      1. I don’t see how that’s inconsistent with what I wrote.

        And I should point out that it’s a very different experience in the private sector, or at least it was for me. I built quite the excellent reputation for catching my bosses’ mistakes ahead of time. They loved me for it!

        Working for me, if you want to be awesome in my eyes, catch my mistakes. I don’t care whether I’m the one that’s right or wrong–I care that we don’t do the wrong thing and do the right thing instead.

  17. If correct or even if not, where was this “outside party” earlier?

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