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Justice Dept. Drops Case to Force Apple to Unlock NYC iPhone After Mystery Person Provides Passcode

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"...the government no longer needs Apple’s assistance to unlock the iPhone, and withdraws its application.’’

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The Justice Department said in a court filing Friday night that it no longer needed Apple's help to unlock the iPhone of an alleged New York drug dealer, withdrawing an application aimed at compelling the computer giant to aide investigators in the case.

U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in a filing with the Brooklyn court that an individual had provided investigators with the passcode to the phone. The individual was not identified.

“Yesterday evening, an individual provided the passcode to the iPhone at issue in this case,’’ he wrote. “Late last night, the government used that passcode by hand and gained access to the iPhone. Accordingly, the government no longer needs Apple’s assistance to unlock the iPhone, and withdraws its application.’’

The Wall Street Journal reported that the alleged drug dealer, Jun Feng, was the one who provided investigators the passcode to the iPhone 5S. Feng initially said he did not remember the code.

The case and manner in which it ended was sure to draw parallels between the FBI's attempt to force Apple to unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone. In that case, Apple refused and the FBI suddenly withdrew its application last month when a mystery method was employed by the agency to gain access to the phone.

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