The legal battle between the FBI and Apple over a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters is now over. As previously reported, the FBI had requested the delay of a hearing so it could have a chance to test out a new technique to break into the phone that would not require Apple's assistance. It's not known what method the FBI used, but apparently it was a success. The government filed a report with the court stating that they were able to access the data on the phone and will no longer need Apple's assistance. The status report states:
The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple Inc. mandated by Court’s Order Compelling Apple Inc. to Assist Agents in Search dated February 16, 2016. Accordingly, the government hereby requests that the Order Compelling Apple Inc. to Assist Agents in Search dated February 16, 2016 be vacated.
Last week, Apple filed a letter
with a Brooklyn court, regarding another case where the FBI was requesting assistance to break into a phone. In the letter, Apple requested a delay in the hearing until at least ten days after the FBI gave its report in the San Bernardino case. Apple stated that if the FBI was able to break into the phone in the San Bernardino case, than Apple's assistance would not be required in the Brooklyn case either. At the time it was hypothetical, but the government's latest filing confirms that the FBI was able to break into the phone. This means the government will have an uphill battle in court if it argues that Apple's assistance is required to break into the phone in the Brooklyn case. Unless the government has a really good explanation as to why the same method can't be used, it will probably drop the Brooklyn case as well.
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