FBI accesses iPhone of shooter, says it doesn’t need Apple’s help

The U.S. Justice Department said Monday that the FBI had accessed the iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack last December and will not need the help of Apple to unblock the device.
“The FBI has now successfully retrieved the data stored on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple required by this Court Order,” said Justice Department spokesperson Melanie Newman in a statement.

“The FBI is currently reviewing the information on the phone, consistent with standard investigatory procedures,” she added.

The news comes after last week a California court hearing at which Apple and the government were scheduled to appear was cancelled after federal authorities requested its postponement to test a possible way to access the iPhone.

The move came after federal officials said that an unidentified third party came forward and “demonstrated … (a) possible method” to accessing a locked iPhone.

The announcement brings to an end a confrontation between the government and Apple that erupted when federal Judge Sheri Pym in mid-February ordered the tech giant to help the FBI access the information on the phone of the shooter, who – with his wife – killed 14 people in what is being investigated as a terrorist attack.

Apple had refused to agree to the government’s requests, after claiming that doing so would put the security of all iPhones in jeopardy.

The U.S. government said Monday that it remains a “priority” to ensure that law enforcement agents may obtain “crucial” digital information to protect national security and public safety, whether it be through the cooperation of the implicated parties or by resorting to the courts when cooperation is lacking.

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