The feds still want Apple to help it hack an iPhone in New York

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iPhone will never be 100 percent hacker-proof.
iPhone will never be 100 percent hacker-proof.
Photo: Sam Mills/Cult of Mac

The FBI dropped its case against Apple to hack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, but the Department of Justice filed a new letter today demanding Apple help it unlock a different iPhone.

The iPhone in question belonged to meth deal Jun Feng in New York. Federal authorities believe the device may contain critical evidence and plan to appeal a ruling made by a magistrate judge in Brooklyn who decided the government can’t force Apple to hack its own device.

In its letter of appeal, the DoJ argues that because Apple helped prosecutors unlock at least 70 iPhones in the past, the company should do it again.

“The Department of Justice has made the same application, for the same assistance, from the same company, dozens of times before,” U.S. attorneys wrote in their letter. “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.”

Hacking methods purchased by the FBI from Cellebrite to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c only work on a narrow slice of iOS devices. They may not be able to unlock the Brooklyn iPhone, even though it is running iOS 7.

By pursuing this case further though, the Feds are running the risk of having to reveal their iPhone hacking secrets to Apple. FBI Director James Comey has been hesitant to divulge how his agency unlocked the San Bernardino iPhone 5c, arguing that as soon as the feds tell Apple the company will fix the whole and they won’t have access to other devices.

You can read the full filing below:

In re Order Requiring Apple Inc. to Assist in the Execution of a Search Warrant by Kif Leswing