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DOJ Ends Suit Against Apple, Says It Hacked San Bernardino iPhone On Its Own

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

The Department of Justice has withdrawn its lawsuit against Apple, saying the Federal Bureau of Investigation found a way to hack the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone without any assistance.

The debate that has spurred endless discussion on the balance between privacy and security has come to an abrupt end, The New York Times reports.

“The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple,” the DOJ said in a Monday court filing.

The DOJ dropping the case has raised a couple of interesting points. On the one hand, it nips in the bud the precedent the case would have set if the DOJ successfully forced Apple to comply with unlocking San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone. But on the other hand, the withdrawal of the case means that the FBI has some serious capabilities that it may be able to deploy on other private smartphones.

Additionally, the fight between technology companies and the federal government is unlikely to end here. A future similar issue  could pit the private sector against law enforcement authorities all over again.

At this point, it is not reported what the feds found on the phone.

Apple will likely try to determine how law enforcement was able to crack the phone without help, but to keep the method secure, the FBI may simply choose to classify the procedure. Recently, the Justice Department said a third-party got in touch with the government and offered to unlock the iPhone. The identity of this third-party is unknown.

“From a legal standpoint, what happened in the San Bernardino case doesn’t mean the fight is over,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Esha Bhandari told The New York Times. “I would hope they would give that information to Apple so that it can patch any weaknesses, but if the government classifies the tool, that suggests it may not.”

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