Would ya look at that… The federal government didn’t need to start a privacy flame war with one of the countries largest electronic purveyors after all.

Monday, the LA Times reported the FBI was able to unlock one of the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhones without the assistance of Apple:

Federal officials said Monday that they have unlocked the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters and are dropping a request in front of a federal judge that sought to force Apple to help with that effort.

Though the move avoids what could have been a pitched court battle weighing data privacy against the needs of the counter-terrorism community, the FBI’s ability to stage an end run around Apple’s security measures could raise additional civil liberties issues.

The move comes a week after officials announced that a “third party” had come forward to help investigators unlock the phone without help from the computer giant. It’s unclear what the FBI found on the phone or exactly what method it used to defeat or bypass the device’s security settings.

“Our decision to conclude the litigation was based solely on the fact that, with the recent assistance of a third party, we are now able to unlock that iPhone without compromising any information on the phone,” prosecutors said in a statement.

“We sought an order compelling Apple to help unlock the phone to fulfill a solemn commitment to the victims of the San Bernardino shooting – that we will not rest until we have fully pursued every investigative lead related to the vicious attack,” the statement said.

The decision may impact local law enforcement entities around the country:

Monday’s announcement could also have far-reaching consequences for local law enforcement. Police nationwide have long contended that data encryption allowed criminals to store information on smartphones to avoid detection. Thousands of the devices that have been seized during investigations in recent years currently sit idle in police evidence lockers. The Los Angeles Police Department has nearly 300 such devices, the department has said.

Though it’s unclear how the FBI gained access to Farook’s phone, the possibility that the agency found a way around Apple’s security measures could allow police access to similarly encrypted data in a much wider range of investigations

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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