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Justice Department Ends NY Fight With Apple After Accessing iPhone

The U.S. Department of Justice said Friday it no longer needs Apple's help unlocking the iPhone of a suspected New York drug dealer, ending a battle that touched on a struggle between law enforcement and the tech giant over access to locked devices.

"Yesterday evening, an individual provided the passcode to the iPhone at issue in this case," U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers said in a letter to the court dated Friday. "Late last night, the government used that passcode by hand and gained access to the iPhone."

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A federal judge in Brooklyn in February ruled against the government in its motion to compel Apple to unlock the phone of a convicted drug dealer.

The Justice Department did not identify in the letter the individual who provided the passcode.

The government was embroiled in a high-profile fight with Apple over access to the locked phone of San Bernardino mass shooter Syed Farook, but it ended up using a software tool to get into his phone.

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The FBI paid $1 million for the software solution allowing them to get into Farook's phone.

The government has said in court filings that method would not work in the Brooklyn case, and on April 8 signaled its intent to sue Apple to access the phone in the case.