The unlocking of the San Bernardino iPhone may just be the tip of the iceberg. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department is currently trying to have Apple extract data from “about a dozen” iPhones around the country.
According to “people familiar with the matter,” the authorities are looking to extract data from these other phones in much the same way as the San Bernardino case. In each example, prosecutors have attempted to use the All Writs Act to force Apple to bypass the device’s passcode in order to extract data.
While the Journal hasn’t learned any exact details about the cases, it claims “they don’t involve terrorism charges,” according to its sources. Other than that, details remain scant.
If accurate, the news doesn’t do much for official protestations claiming that the San Bernardino case is a one-off. In a filing made last week, prosecutors argued that the order issued to Apple “is tailored for and limited to this particular phone. And the order will facilitate only the FBI’s efforts to search the phone… Nor is compliance with the order a threat to other users of Apple products.”
Later, Tim Cook wrote in a letter that government suggestions that “this tool could only be used once, on one phone” were “simply not true,” adding that “once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices… The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements.”
Someone is wrong—but the process through which we find out could be rather messy.