United States Department of Justice March 29

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See italicised updates below, with statements from both the Department of Justice and Apple.

The battle between the FBI and Apple over accessing a work phone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists started as headline news and ended in a rather anti-climactic fashion.

The high-profile congressional hearing was due to be followed by a big showdown in court. Instead, the FBI asked that the hearing be vacated, and later quietly announced that it had, with help, managed to gain access to the phone. Nothing to see here, move along.

But while this particular case may be settled, it’s extremely unlikely that this will be the end of the matter – for two reasons …

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While the FBI has successfully accessed the data on the iPhone 5c in the San Bernardino shootings, and the court battle is over for now, the government says that it may not accede to Apple’s demand to be told the method used.

The White House said back in 2014 that the government would consider the pros and cons of disclosing vulnerabilities discovered by its various law enforcement agencies. ArsTechnica asked whether the FBI would reveal the method used in this case, and was told that it wasn’t saying one way or the other …

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United States Department of Justice February 25

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Apple may be battling one branch of U.S. law enforcement on a terrorist-related issue, but CNN reports that the company is working closely with another on a broader fight against ISIS. Apple is one of six leading tech and media companies offering assistance to the Department of Justice in countering ISIS messaging and posts on social media.

At a meeting conducted at the Justice Department on Wednesday, executives from Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, MTV and Buzzfeed offered their input to top counter intelligence officials, according to an industry source familiar with the meeting.

In all, nearly 50 companies and community groups participated, along with the National Security Council, the State Department and the British Embassy.

The issue is not just one of propaganda, said National Counterterrorism Center director Nick Rasmussen, but of directly encouraging acts of terrorism …

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United States Department of Justice February 22

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Victims and families of victims in the San Bernardino shootings have expressed divided views on the Apple vs FBI battle over access to an iPhone used by one of the terrorists.

We noted earlier that the mother of one of those killed in the attack has expressed support for Apple’s position, stating that the constitutional right to privacy “is what makes America great.”

This is what separates us from communism, isn’t it? The fact we have the right to privacy. I think Apple is definitely within their rights to protect the privacy of all Americans.

However, Reuters reports that some victims of the attack plan to file a legal brief in support of the FBI …

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United States Department of Justice October 13, 2015

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The U.S. Justice Department has said that is now satisfied with Apple’s measures to guard against any repetition of the type of anti-competitive behaviour ruled illegal in the long-running ebooks trialBloomberg reports that the department has recommended that the court-appointed monitor is no longer necessary.

In a letter to the Manhattan federal judge who found in 2013 that Apple illegally conspired with publishers to set e-book prices, the U.S. said Apple has “now implemented meaningful antitrust policies, procedures, and training programs that were obviously lacking at the time Apple participated in and facilitated the horizontal price-fixing conspiracy found by this court.”

The letter did, however, note that Apple “never embraced a cooperative working relationship with the monitor” …  expand full story

United States Department of Justice October 12, 2015

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A New York federal judge has indicated that he is likely to refuse a government request to compel Apple to unlock a customer’s iPhone, but will first ask Apple to explain why decrypting iPhones would be “unduly burdensome.” The iPhone concerned is apparently not running iOS 8 or 9, and so Apple would have the technical ability to decrypt it.

The Washington Post reports that Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York is an activist judge who is believed to be attempting to open up public debate on the issue of privacy versus law enforcement …  expand full story

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