The U.S. government today officially announced that it has succeeded in unlocking San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5c. The government is now asking the court to vacate the original order compelling Apple to help unlock the phone.
Officials have issued a proposed order to vacate.
The judge in the case has not officially ordered that the case be vacated, but that is presumably what will happen soon.
This development comes days after the government disclosed that it was examining a “possible method” of getting into the phone with help from an “outside party,” which turned out to be Israeli company Cellebrite. Today’s filing does not specify whether it was, in fact, Cellebrite that successfully opened the phone.
In any case, this is big news in a saga that has mobilized support for Apple on the part of several technology companies, including Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.
The news might seem like a relief to Apple, but now the company must deal with the fact that a third party has gained access into one of its iPhones.
Meanwhile, the FBI has gotten the short-term win of gaining access to this particular phone. But the federal agency is keen to obtain a repeatable method for getting into iPhones, as FBI director James Comey explained in a Congressional hearing a few weeks ago. Plus, the FBI made a big deal of having exhausted all options in its previous efforts, so having the phone unlocked in such a short time span doesn’t make the bureau look very good.