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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.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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29 months ago
5 minutes later
"Never mind, we got it anyway and it turned out to be useless. Have a nice day, suckers."
Rating: 38 Votes
29 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.
Rating: 27 Votes
29 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?
Rating: 18 Votes
29 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.

Rating: 13 Votes
29 months ago
This is turning into an SNL skit.
Rating: 10 Votes
29 months ago

So passcode was 1234 all along, eh?

Rating: 9 Votes
29 months ago

Would be amusing if another $1.3 million netted a passcode to open the phone in this case. :rolleyes:

They can have my passcode for $900K.

Hell, this could work out. Commit some robbery for say $5,000. Then negotiate with police for passcode purchase price to pay for good lawyers. Go to jail for a year or two and come out with a nice nest egg. Drive those hacker asking prices down.
Rating: 5 Votes
29 months ago
I'm going to go on record and say that this actually sucks for Apple. However, don't get me wrong; this is a victory for Apple.

If I remember reading from previous articles, if this case actually went to court, Apple could actually have forced the FBI to reveal the method used to unlock the previous iPhone, which would have been advantageous to all of us and a major blow to the FBI.

Now that this has been dropped, we nor Apple will ever know what method was used to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone.

Rating: 4 Votes
29 months ago
So passcode was 1234 all along, eh?
Rating: 4 Votes
29 months ago
If I read the quote "San Bernadino shooter Syed Farook" one more time
Rating: 3 Votes

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