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Feds drop court battle with Apple after someone helps the agency unlock a meth dealer's iPhone 5s

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Feds drop court battle with Apple after someone helps the agency unlock a meth dealer's iPhone 5s
The FBI has had two high profile cases in the last two months related to getting Apple to unlock a couple of iPhones. The Apple iPhone 5c belonging to deceased terrorist Syed Farook was finally opened by a third party, thus preventing a showdown between the government and Apple. Despite conflicting reports, it appears that the FBI did manage to learn something new from the information they obtained from the phone.

The second case involved an Apple iPhone 5s that belongs to admitted meth dealer Jun Feng, who swears that he doesn't remember the passcode on his device. Once again, the Feds sought a court order to demand that Apple unlock Feng's phone. And once again, a third party appeared to help the FBI unlock the phone in question. This time, it wasn't an expensive security outfit (one report claims that the FBI paid over $1 million to unlock Farook's phone), but an unnamed individual who approached the FBI with the passcode to the dealer's handset. It is unclear how this individual got the correct passcode. Did he know Feng? At this point,, until the FBI reveals more information, everything is conjecture including the rumor that it was Feng himself who provided the passcode to the government.

Late Thursday, the FBI tried the passcode and it worked. No longer needing Apple's assistance, on Friday the Feds dropped their demand that Apple unlock the phone, and another court battle was prematurely ended.

By withdrawing its case against Apple, the FBI is actually shooting itself in the foot. Without appearing in court, the FBI can't challenge a 50-page decision from a magistrate judge from a previous case. That decision states that the government does not have the legal authority to force companies like Apple to unlock its devices. The government was hoping to attack that ruling so that Apple and other tech firms couldn't cite it in any future court showdown.

source: WSJ

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