Last month the FBI demanded that Apple employees build a backdoor to hack into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, which spurred on a contentious debate about security and encryption. After continuous pushback from Apple, the Department of Justice was able to hack into the phone without the help of the major company at all. It seems the Feds are getting better at this hacking business: bypassing Apple once again, they successfully unlocked another iPhone belonging to a suspected meth dealer in Brooklyn.
In a letter to a federal judge, a U.S. attorney noted that someone had provided the passcode to the iPhone of Jun Feng—the primary suspect in the criminal case—thereby circumventing Apple's involvement in the security process. The government had previously demanded a court order to unlock the phone before the Feds got tipped off about the iPhone's passcode, Gothamist reports.
While the coverage around the Brooklyn case hasn't made as much noise in the media as the San Bernardino shooter case, it still asserts the necessity of the nationwide debate about security and encryption. In both cases, the government relied on a 1798 statute called the All Writs Act to demand access to the iPhones, although these court orders are now rendered irrelevant by the government's success in unlocking both phones.
The Feds may have come out on top in both cases, but Apple won't give up that easily: the company has objected to several other court orders demanding similar hacking situations, including one that has to do with a gang-related Boston case.