The FBI has dramatically halted its legal push to force Apple to assist it in breaking into a locked iPhone 5C, after announcing that it had been able to do so independently.
The US justice department had been pursuing a court order aimed at obligating Apple to write new software which would enable officials to access data stored on a locked iPhone belonging to San Bernardino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook.
Prosecutors now say that an ‘outside party’ has stepped forward with a new means of cracking the device, rendering such legal pressure irrelevant.
In a statement Eileen Decker, chief federal prosecutor in California, said: “It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety, either with co-operation from relevant parties, or through the court system when co-operation fails.”
For its part Apple is now scrambling to identify and correct the flaw which has enabled investigators to bypass its security, potentially undermining consumer confidence in the privacy of their stored data.