Constitutional Law

DOJ says it unlocked iPhone of San Bernardino shooter, seeks to vacate order requiring Apple's help

  • Print

Saying that it has managed to unlock an encrypted Apple iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter without the company’s help, the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday filed a motion seeking to vacate an earlier federal court order requiring Apple’s assistance with the project.

The brief filing averts a potential showdown between the feds and the computer Goliath in the hard-fought Riverside, California, case.

The phone provided to San Bernardino County government worker Syed Rizwan Farook by his employer may contain evidence of a mass shooting last year that left 14 people dead, authorities said. However, although San Bernardino cooperated with the FBI, the iPhone’s encryption initially stymied them.

It isn’t clear exactly how the feds bypassed encryption to get to the contents of Farook’s iPhone 5C, the San Jose Mercury News reports. However, it appears from the filing and prior media reports that an Israel-based security firm may have helped the FBI crack the encrypted password protections.

Apple did not immediately comment, the Associated Press says.

Apple Insider, the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) and the Washington Post (reg. req.) also have stories.

Related coverage: “County gave feds OK to unlock killer’s iPhone, but it never installed feature allowing remote access” “Apple moves to vacate court order requiring it to develop software to access encrypted iPhone”

Updated March 29 to correct headline spelling error.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.