U.S. Drops New York Case Against Apple After Unlocking iPhone Without Assistance

The U.S. Justice Department dropped its fight to get Apple to help it unlock an iPhone in a New York drug case after someone provided the device's passcode to authorities. In a letter to the judge, obtained by BuzzFeed News, prosecutors explained they no longer needed Apple's assistance.

iPhone 5s

The government respectfully submits this letter to update the Court and the parties. Yesterday evening, an individual provided the passcode to the iPhone at issue in this case. Late last night, the government used that passcode by hand and gained access to the iPhone. Accordingly, the government no longer needs Apple's assistance to unlock the iPhone, and withdraws its application.

In a statement, also procured by BuzzFeed News, Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said the case was never about setting a precedent, but instead about law enforcement's "ability and need to access evidence on devices pursuant to lawful court orders and search warrants." Pierce said that now that they have access to the data they wanted they no longer need any help.

Last week, Apple filed a refusal to help the Department of Justice unlock the phone at the center of the New York case, claiming that the government had not yet exhausted all other means of getting the data. Apple argued that the government should have provided evidence it exhausted all other options before asking Apple for help. Additionally, Apple said the FBI did not adequately demonstrate that the method it used to unlock San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook's iPhone would not work on the iPhone in the New York case.

In late February, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Ornstein ruled that the FBI lacked the legal authority to order Apple to hack the New York iPhone. The U.S. Justice Department filed an appeal in March, and Apple responded with a denial last week.

The New York case dates back to October 2015, with the FBI seeking to access data from an iPhone 5s belonging to Brooklyn drug dealer Jun Feng. Although the FBI used "hackers" to access Syed Farook's iPhone 5c, FBI Director James Comey says the method does not work on the iPhone 5s or later. Feng's iPhone 5s is running iOS 7, which Apple does have the means to access, but the company is refusing to do after taking a harder stance on customer privacy and encryption.

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Top Rated Comments

garirry Avatar
106 months ago
"WE ARE THE FBI AND WE REQUEST YOU TO REVEAL YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION FOR THE SAKE OF THE SECURITY OF THIS NATION!"
5 minutes later
"Never mind, we got it anyway and it turned out to be useless. Have a nice day, suckers."
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gav2k Avatar
106 months ago
All these phones magically unlocking and the agencies backing off from Apple is amusing. It's like there testing the publics opinion each time.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ghost31 Avatar
106 months ago
I really don't like the fact that American companies have to protect citizens rights of privacy from the government of all people. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HEK Avatar
106 months ago
I thought this one was a 5S, so how are they getting in?
Someone connected with the case gave the FBI the passcode. They just key that in by hand like the owner and they are in.

See, water boarding suspects does work in getting the passcode.:rolleyes:

Remember, use your fifth amendment rights, don't talk to the police, ever. Nothing you say can ever help you, even the truth. Always get a lawyer.

Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
\-V-/ Avatar
106 months ago
This is turning into an SNL skit.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gusapple Avatar
106 months ago
So passcode was 1234 all along, eh?


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Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)