Re: Surely the NSA reverse-engineered iOS long ago?
That's absolutely the case. Let's not be under any illusion that the spy agencies don't have this capability (or if they don't, it's their fault and not ours,) but the problem with THAT is that spy agencies don't have to worry about domestic law, because they don't have a mandate to spy on U.S. citizens. It would be hilariously illegal for them to do so, in fact, which is why the NSA hasn't just taken this guy's phone and done whatever spooky shit to it they do.
Because the FBI want it as part of an ongoing domestic criminal case, and if they cracked it extrajudicially, such as by having the NSA crack it, any information gathered therefrom would fall under the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree doctrine, and be hilariously inadmissible in court, as would any evidence gathered, otherwise-legitimately, which they were clued into from this phone.
So they're trying to set a precedent that says they can force Apple to just crack the phone for them with a court order. Because that would have been "legally" done, meaning that any evidence so gathered would be admissible.
I'm just waiting for someone to try dragging up that case of the paedophile who had child porn on his laptop and the cop shut the laptop, causing it lock, and the guy simply refused to tell them the password to unlock it.
They're going to scream "But without this kind of legal crowbar, this guy can abuse children! Is that what you want? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!"
You know what?
I would rather let one paedophile abuse children than set a legal precedent that weakens security and privacy for ALL OF HUMANITY. It's called choosing the lesser of two evils. Get out there and do some actual fucking police work and nail the paedo to the wall (cock-first, preferably,) another way, stop getting tiny little authoritarian-boners at the idea of being able to crack into and read everybody's electronic everything. You managed to nail paedophiles, and terrorists, and all those other good crims before now, so get back to it.