The United States government ended its legal fight with Apple Inc. and said Monday it had unlocked the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. The encryption issue had become a sore point between the tech giant and the FBI, with the latter moving court to force Apple to find a backdoor into the California attacker's phone. Apple had opposed the court order.
The U.S. Justice Department said in its court-filing Monday it had "successfully accessed the data stored on Farook's iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple," according to Reuters. Last week, the U.S. government had called for a hearing to be postponed claiming a third party was helping it hack into Farook's iPhone 5c without Apple's help.
"This case should never have been brought," Apple reportedly said in a statement. "From the beginning, we objected to the FBI's demand that Apple build a back door into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent."
It is not clear if the United States government will share with Apple details of the hacking technique used to unlock the shooter's iPhone, and the Guardian reported the technique has been classified. Earlier, it had been reported that Israeli company Cellebrite, which has worked with intelligence and law enforcement authorities of several countries in digital forensics, was helping the government unlock the phone
The justice department said in its filing that while the step of unlocking the iPhone in the San Bernardino shooting case was complete, it will "continue to explore every lead and seek any appropriate legal process" to collect all the necessary evidence.
Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people in San Bernardino Dec. 2, 2015.
The Apple case had seen tech bigwigs such as Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg back the phone company on the encryption issue.