FBI cracks San Bernardino shooter's encrypted iPhone, drops case against Apple

Apple did not immediately comment on FBI's apparent discovery of an iPhone hacking technique.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations said it has succeeded in unlocking an encrypted iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooters, ending a legal logjam involving Apple Inc and the US government.

Apple had refused to accept a court order requiring it to write a new code to help FBI crack into the iPhone 5c used by Rizwan Farook, who killed 14 people at an office party in San Bernardino, California.

Ending a weeks-long standoff, the Justice Department said in a two-page court filing on Monday it has successfully accessed the data stored on Farook's iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple.

The DoJ asked a federal magistrate in Riverside, California, to withdraw the order compelling Apple to assist.

Apple had said allowing officials to access a users' data would set a "dangerous precedent", triggering a hot debate over privacy. Other tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Facebook supported Apple's stand that the government request for access was a massive overreach.

Apple did not immediately comment on FBI's apparent discovery of an iPhone hacking technique, Reuters reported.

The top federal prosecutor in California said investigators received the help of "a third party" in cracking the iPhone.

"It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety, either with co-operation from relevant parties, or through the court system when cooperation fails," Eileen Decker said in a statement.

Prosecutors had said last week "an outside party" had presented to them a possible way of unlocking the iPhone without Apple's help.

An Israeli newspaper said last week data forensics experts at cybersecurity firm Cellebrite were involved in the case, BBC reported. The Israel-headquartered company said it works with the FBI but would not more details.

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