US Gov't Gets Into San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone Without Apple's Help

Department of Justice accesses San Bernardino shooter's phone with the help of a third-party.


It looks like the Apple vs. FBI case is over.

The US Department of Justice announced today that it has successfully gotten into the iPhone used by San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook, effectively ending the legal battle between the two parties.

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The DOJ said in a court filing that it was able to get into Farook's iPhone 5C with the help of an unspecified third-party and therefore no longer needs Apple's help

"We sought an order compelling Apple to help unlock the phone to fulfill a solemn commitment to the victims of the San Bernadino shooting-- that we will not rest until we have fully pursued every investigative lead related to the vicious attack," US attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a statement obtained by GameSpot sister site CNET. "Although this step in the investigation is now complete, we will continue to explore every lead, and seek any appropriate legal process, to ensure our investigation collects all of the evidence related to this terrorist attack. The San Bernardino victims deserve nothing less."

As CNET points out, today's news brings about a formal closure to this case. But, given that the DOJ didn't say who it worked with or how it accessed the data, some may wonder how secure their phones really are.

For lots more on this story, head to CNET.

In February, Apple was ordered by the government to create essentially a new version of iOS that would allow authorities to tap into Farook's iPhone. In an open letter, Apple CEO Cook said what the government is asking of the company fundamentally violates the privacy, security, and trust of its customers.

In a follow-up letter to consumers, Apple said it is technically possible to do what the FBI was asking. Apple refused, however, because it is "too dangerous."

"The only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn't abused and doesn't fall into the wrong hands is to never create it," Apple said.

In the wake of this case, many, including Bill Gates, have called for a discussion between technology leaders and government about how and when the government should be able to gather information.

"What if we had never had wiretapping?" Gates said earlier this month. "Also, the government needs to talk openly about safeguards. Right now a lot of people don't think the government has the right checks to make sure information is only used in criminal situations. So this case will be viewed as the start of a discussion.

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