FBI unlocks iPhone without Apple's help
THE United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has unlocked an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terror attackers, Justice Department officials said, ending a heated legal standoff with Apple that had pitted US authorities against Silicon Valley.
Apple, backed by a broad coalition of technology giants like Google and Facebook, was fiercely opposed to assisting the US government in unlocking the iPhone on grounds that it would have wide-reaching implications on digital security and privacy.
A court hearing in Riverside, California, scheduled for last week where Apple and the Justice Department were to present their arguments was abruptly cancelled after the FBI said it no longer needed Apple's help, reported Agence France-Presse.
It had found an outside party to unlock the phone, the FBI said on Monday.
Apple was trying to squash an order obtained by the Justice Department from the court that would have required it to write new software to get into the iPhone, reported Reuters.
US citizen Syed Farook and his Pakistan-born wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California on Dec 2 before dying in a firefight with police.
The goal of the iPhone probe is to determine if the attackers worked with others, were targeting others and were supported by others, the FBI has said.
News reports said the FBI may have sought assistance from an Israeli forensics company.
Although the court case was terminated, the larger fight over law enforcement access to encrypted information is by no means over.
"The legal debate in that state (California) offered what many saw as a powerful test case for the Justice Department to establish its position. But that verdict will now have to wait for another day," remarked the New York Times. AGENCIES