The U.S. Justice Department has dropped its case against Apple after law enforcement agencies in New York obtained an iPhone unlock via other means. The move comes less than a month after the FBI dropped another high-profile case against the Cupertino company.
In a letter to United States District Judge Margo K. Brodie, the Justice Department confirmed that “an individual provided the passcode to the iPhone at issue” in a New York drug case. “Accordingly, the government no longer needs Apple’s assistant to unlock the iPhone.”
The Justice Department then confirms it is withdrawing its case against Apple. “Because we now have access to the data we sought, we notified the court of this recent development and have withdrawn our request for assistant,” said spokeswoman Emily Pierce.
The Justice Department won’t reveal the identity of the “individual” who provided the unlock, which comes just over a week after Apple officially declined to provide a solution. The company insisted that the government had not exhausted other means of obtaining access.
Apple also pointed out that the FBI hadn’t demonstrated that the method it used to unlock an iPhone 5c belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook could not be used to unlock this device in the New York case.
This case has been going on since October 2015, and involves an iPhone 5s used by Brooklyn drug dealer Jun Feng, according to MacRumors. Apple does have the means to unlock this device, since it is running iOS 7, but it refused to do so due to its strong stance on privacy.