Issa: FBI's Successful Phone Hack Isn't End of Story

The FBI has reportedly hacked the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters without Apple's compelled assistance, but Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) says the questions raised by the government lawsuit that had originally meant to compel that aid are not going away.

"Those worried about our privacy should stay wary -- just because the government was able to get into this one phone does not mean that their quest for a secret key into our devices is over," Issa said in a statement Monday (March 28).

Apple had resisted helping the FBI access the info, saying providing a software back door could make millions of phones and consumers' info less safe. The FBI said it was not looking for a back door, just for Apple to call off the dogs so it could try and pick the lock on the front door.

Whichever, the FBI apparently got in.

"That the government was able to gain access to the phone without Apple's help is certainly preferable to issuing a wide-reaching court decision that would grant the government backdoor access into every American's phone and other devices, but the fundamental question over how we, as citizens, expect our government to be able to access -- or not access -- our personal information still remains," said Issa.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) agreed.

"It is certainly good news that the government has been able to unlock Sayed Farook’s phone in order to access information that may be useful to the FBI's investigation," he said. "The events in San Bernardino were heinous, and we must do everything we can to protect against this kind of violence. It is paramount that we uncover whether Farook and his wife were acting alone, or whether they were part of a broader terrorist network. The government’s decision to drop its case against Apple, however, does not mean that America is ready to turn the page on this serious issue. The question of ‘security versus security’ remains front and center, and the settling of this one case does not dispose of it."

Speaking on CNN, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the country was going to face the issue again and that law enforcement needs to get into electronic devices of they won't be able to make their cases in court. He said the FBI had every reason to push as hard as they could for Apple's help, given that they are charged with keeping the country safe.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.