US gets into terrorist’s iPhone, drops legal action against Apple
Mar 29, 2016 02:50 AM EDT
The U.S. officials said on Monday that the U.S. Justice Department will withdraw legal action to force Apple unlocking an encrypted iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino's shooters. The announcement came after the FBI had succeeded in unlocking the terrorist's iPhone without Apple's help.
According to USA Today, an unidentified entity has brought a method to the FBI earlier this month that allowed investigators to hack the security function without erasing contents of the iPhone used by the shooter.
However, many observers said the larger fight over law enforcement access to encrypted information is just getting started.
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who had criticized the Justice Department's suit against Apple, said in a statement on Monday that the lawsuit against Apple may be over, but the Contitutional and privacy questions it raised are not.
The U.S. officials maintained it was looking for access to one phone, but Apple countered that it would create a backdoor to all such devices that was exploitable by other entities.
According to Reuters, Apple said in a statement on Monday that it objected to the FBI's demand that Apple build a back door into the iPhone because the company believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. The tech company said the case should never have been brought.
The government was demanding Apple to help FBI hack an iPhone used by Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attack that killed 14 people. Farook and his wife died in a shootout with police after the attack.
Dozens of tech companies including Google, Microsoft, and Facebook filed legal briefs supporting Apple. The Justice Department received support from law enforcement groups and relatives of San Bernardino victims.
The Justice Department said in court filings and congressional testimony that Apple possessed the "exclusive technical means" to unlock Farook's phone. But in a two-page filing on Monday, the Justice Department said the government had "successfully accessed the data stored on Farook's iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple."
The top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, Eileen Decker, said in a statement on Monday that the government's request to Apple was part of its "solemn commitment" to the victims, Fortune reports.
Decker said the government will continue to explore every lead and seek any appropriate legal process to ensure the investigation collects all of the evidence related to the terrorist attack.