We May Not Need Apple Inc. to Unlock iPhone: Justice Department

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Apple’s assistance may not be needed to unlock the iPhone of one of the two shooters in the San Bernardino, Calif., rampage, said the Justice Department on Monday. The government said in a new court filing that an outside party had demonstrated a way for the FBI to get inside the phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook.

No details on the third-party

In the filing, the Justice Department said it will test this method, and if it works, it will probably eliminate the need for Apple’s assistance. The Justice Department also said it would file a status report by Apr. 5.

On Monday, Judge Sheri N. Pym, the federal magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, agreed to grant the Justice Department’s motion to postpone the hearing. The hearing was scheduled for today.

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Law enforcement officials refused to name the outside party that approached investigators with a possible method for opening the phone. If the government fails to open the iPhone with the help of the third-party and continues its fight, then Apple would want to know about the outside party that has claimed to be able to break into the iPhone so it can learn what methods can threaten the security of the iPhone, a senior Apple executive told The New York Times, on the condition of anonymity.

Apple adamant on its decision

Alex Abdo, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said this method would only delay the inevitable fight over whether the government should compel Apple to unlock the phone. Citing privacy and safety concerns, Apple has always opposed opening the iPhone. President Obama opposed the stance on encryption taken by tech companies like Apple and said this month that law enforcement must be able to collect information from smartphones and other devices legally.

Meanwhile, Apple is strict on its promise of the security and privacy of its customers. Chief executive Tim Cook said at the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters during Monday’s product launch event, “This is an issue that impacts all of us and we will not shrink from this responsibility.”

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