Many security experts believe that the FBI and NSA can already hack into an iPhone without Apple’s help, using a number of techniques such as “infrared laser glitching” or “de-capping.” Edward Snowden backed this up last week in a virtual interview with Johns Hopkins University. These techniques, although risky to the chip, are already in use by the most advanced hackers and, very likely, the NSA.
If the government already has its own access to the iPhone, then the FBI’s chosen “debate” with Apple is an exercise in wearing down public resistance to the surveillance state.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) could have used a dozen other cases of locked phones to push this debate. On Tuesday, it was reported that DoJ was pursuing about 12 court orders to force Apple to help extract data from iPhones. But the San Bernardino terror case gave them an opportunity to sway public opinion.
Indeed, as The Intercept reports, the surveillance state is salivating at the possibility of trampling over the last defense of tech companies and privacy advocates.