By Rachel Stoltzfoos
The Justice Department doesn’t need Apple’s help to unlock the San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone after all, the agency said Monday, after insisting for weeks the FBI could not unlock the terrorist’s phone.
A third party showed the FBI how it could possibly unlock the phone without Apple’s help, the agency said in a new court filing ahead of a hearing on the matter Tuesday, reported The New York Times. A judge postponed the hearing.
The FBI ordered Apple to help them unlock the terrorist’s phone last month, and has said repeatedly in court documents it could not get around a security measure that automatically erases the phone after too many unsuccessful password attempts. Apple refused the FBI order, saying it would force the company to invent a way to unlock the phone that would weaken the security of all its phones and threaten the privacy of its customers.
The conflict sparked a heated legal battle with massive implications for privacy rights, which may now be put on hold, along with the national conversation it started over privacy versus security in regard to phones.
FBI director James Comey was unable to answer a series of technical questions about the phone from Republican Rep. Darrel Issa in a congressional hearing this month, frustrating the congressman. Asked whether the FBI had asked Apple for the source code, which could possibly be used to bypass the password security system, Comey replied: “Not that I’m aware of.”
“You’re expecting somebody to obey an order to do something they don’t want to do,” Issa said after a line of questions. “And you haven’t even figured out whether you could do it yourself. You’ve just told us well, we can’t do it. But you didn’t ask for the source code.”
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