The U.S. Department of Justice briefly gained the upper hand over Apple this week when it made it clear that it was in no rush to reveal how it hacked the iPhone at the center of the San Bernardino shooting case — thereby stopping Apple from plugging that particular vulnerability.
However, it seems that Apple’s back in the driving seat after a new report reveals that the Justice Department may be compelled to reveal its hacking methods if it wants to continue with a case asking a New York court to force Apple to unlock a different iPhone handset.
The DOJ has two weeks to decide whether it wants to continue with the case, which revolves around the iPhone used in a Brooklyn drug case. Despite having supposedly hacked the iPhone in the San Bernardino case, it is not yet clear whether whatever method was used there can be used on this second iPhone.
In a statement, Apple has said that it doesn’t know the FBI’s solution to iPhone security, who developed it, or “what it allegedly achieves.”
Apple is already ahead in the New York case. Last month, an NY magistrate judge ruled that the government isn’t allowed to compel Apple to unlock an iPhone involved in a criminal investigation using the All Writs Act.
Not only does the government have to overturn that particular privacy win for Apple; it also risks having to divulge whatever technical hacking effort it reportedly achieved.