- Apple and the FBI have been in a standoff revolving around a federal judge's order to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters as the tech giant argues that it would threaten the security of personal information in iPhones, including health data. But a third-party method demonstrated to the FBI may work and not compromise data on the iPhone.
- This information led the Department of Justice (DOJ) to request a postponement of a court hearing earlier this week,which was granted, over the encryption debate.
- Federal prosecutors said in a court filing if the method proves viable, "it should eliminate the need for assistance from Apple." However, if it does not work, the case could go back to the courtroom.
The New York Times reported that a third-party successfully accessing the iPhone might delay court proceedings, but the issue will not be easily resolved. Alex Abdo, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told the Times, "This will only delay an inevitable fight over whether the government can force Apple to break the security of its devices."
Apple wants to learn more about the third party claiming it knows how to break into the iPhone so the company can learn how other parties might circumvent the device's security. But the FBI official declined to give the party's name because investigators believe the method should be further tested.
A recent commentary in Fortune brings to light the fact that the Apple v. FBI debate has not touched upon the idea that granting the government access to smartphone data opens access to healthcare records.
"More than ever, mandating insecurity on smartphones and the precedent it sets for other connected devices has broad implications for sensitive health data, extending to clinicians and patients that depend on that data," the authors of the Forbes commentary wrote."This is a matter of public safety and the protection of citizens' most private information."
There were more than 100 million health records stolen last year - many via hacking. Most hospitals and providers now have web patient portals and smartphone apps.
“Clearly, the FBI v Apple case is testing the balance between national security and peoples’ right to privacy of financial and health information,” Vivek Kolpe, practice director at Top Tier Consulting, previously told Healthcare Dive.