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DOJ drops case against Apple after unlocking iPhone

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Monday dropped its case [status report] seeking to compel Apple [corporate website] to assist unlocking the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, saying the DOJ has accessed the data itself. The DOJ had requested a postponement [JURIST report] of a hearing that had been scheduled for last week to determine whether Apple must comply with an order to unlock the San Bernadino shooter's iPhone. The DOJ stated that they may have another method to unlock the shooter's phone and therefore would not need Apple to comply with the order. In its filing Monday, the DOJ said it had "successfully accessed the data" and "no longer requires ... assistance from Apple."

In a separate case this month a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York denied a DOJ request to order Apple to disable the security of an iPhone that was seized during a drug investigation. At the end of February Apple filed [JURIST report] a brief in the US District Court for the Central District of California in opposition of the US government's request for the company to unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter, Syed Rizwan Farook. Counsel for Apple called the case "unprecedented" after the DOJ filed [JURIST report] a motion to compel Apple to unlock the encrypted iPhone. In response to the legal conflict, Apple asked [JURIST report] the US government to create a panel of experts to discuss issues of security versus privacy. These developments came after Apple refused the initial court order to assist the government in unlocking the iPhone from one of the San Bernardino shooter. The court order required [JURIST report] Apple to supply software to the FBI to disable a self-destruct feature that erases phone data after 10 failed attempts to enter the phone's password.

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