Thursday January 24, 2019
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US drops charges against Apple after FBI successsfully hacks terrorist’s iPhone

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Apple
Photo: pixabay.com

Washington: After successfully hacking into a terrorist’s encrypted Apple iPhone who was involved in San Bernardino, California shooting, the US Department of Justice has withdrawn legal action against the tech giant.

According to the media reports, a third party helped the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to crack the security function without erasing contents of the iPhone used by Syed Farook.

Farook, along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, planned and executed the December 2, 2015 shooting that left 14 people killed.

“This case should never have been brought. We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated,” Apple said in a statement on Monday.

“This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy,” the statement said.

Recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook, referring to the ongoing battle with the US government over encryption to unlock an iPhone, reiterated the company’s commitment to protect its users’ data and privacy.

Addressing a packed auditorium at its Cupertino, California-based headquarters, Cook said: “We have a responsibility to help you protect your data and your privacy. We will not shrink from this responsibility.”

“We built the iPhone for you, our customers, and for many of us it is a deeply personal device,” he told the gathering during a special launch event this month.

On Monday, the federal government department, on behalf of the FBI, made the move at a US court in Central California, Xinhua reported.

The two-page court filing said that the FBI had accessed data stored on the iPhone 5c.

A week ago, a day before the DOJ and the Silicon Valley technology company were scheduled to appear at a hearing at the court, the government said it was trying a new way to unlock the phone used by Farook.

The smartphone has a feature that erases data after 10 unsuccessful unlocking attempts.

Successfully bypassing Apple in its efforts to look into the phone for information probably helpful in the terror attack investigation, the DOJ did not make public on Monday any details about who did help and how did it make through.

Apple had been resisting the order by Judge Pym since February 16, when she ordered the manufacturer to provide the FBI with specialised software to disable the security feature.

In an earlier TV interview, citing privacy protection for customers as a reason, Cook suggested that he would fight the case all the way up the US Supreme Court.

The argument was heated, as the government side fought on the ground that it was a work phone owned by the San Bernardino county, and the software would be in the possession of Apple rather than in the hands of FBI agents.

Both sides seemed to have failed to win full public support.

However, the DOJ’s decision not to go after Apple’s assistance effectively put the dispute to an end, at least for now.

And it is now Apple’s turn to figure out, and for iPhone users to wonder, how secure is the phone and data on the device.

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FBI Probed Whether Donald Trump Was Secretly Working For Moscow: Report

Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his Moscow ties

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FBI probed whether Trump was working for Moscow: Report. VOA

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had opened an inquiry in 2017 into whether US President Donald Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia after he fired the agency’s Director James Comey, the media reported.

The New York Times, citing unnamed sources familiar with the investigation, reported on Friday that counterintelligence officials weighed whether Trump’s actions were undermining national security and whether he was knowingly working for Russia or had “unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence”.

Trump has repeatedly denied that he colluded with Russia and called special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt”.

Reacting to the report, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said: “This is absurd. James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI.

“Unlike President (Barack) Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Donald Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”

In 2016, US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had launched cyberattacks and planted fake news stories on the social media in a bid to boost Trump and damage his rival Hillary Clinton’s chances for the presidency.

Trump, U.S.
Donald Trump. VOA

The investigation the FBI opened into Donald Trump also had a criminal aspect that whether his firing of Comey constituted obstruction of justice, the report said.

The FBI investigation was later folded into Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, the paper said, adding that it was unclear if the counterintelligence aspect was still being pursued.

The Times said that the FBI had been suspicious of Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign. But it held off on opening an investigation till the President sacked Comey, who refused to swear his allegiance and roll back the Russia investigation.

Also Read- Social Networking Giant Facebook Planned to Sell Users’ Data in 2012

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the daily that he had no knowledge of the inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and they hadn’t heard anything, apparently “they found nothing”.

Nonetheless, the inquiry put some of the President’s closest associates in the dock. His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance and fraud crimes, while his campaign chief Paul Manafort was convicted of financial fraud.

Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his Moscow ties. (IANS)