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Is This the 'Third Party' Helping the FBI Open Encrypted iPhone?

by Reuters / / Source: Reuters
New York police officers stand outside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue while monitoring a demonstration on Feb. 23 in New York. Protesters assembled in more than 30 cities around the world to lash out at the FBI for obtaining a court order that requires Apple to make it easier to unlock an encrypted iPhone used by a gunman in December's mass murders in California. Julie Jacobson / AP

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Israel's Cellebrite, a provider of mobile forensic software, is helping the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's attempt to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Wednesday.

If Cellebrite succeeds, then the FBI will no longer need the help of Apple Inc, the Israeli daily said, citing unnamed industry sources.

 Pieces of an iPhone are seen at a repair store in New York, February 17, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/Files

Cellebrite officials declined to comment on the matter.

Apple is engaged in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over a judge's order that it write new software to disable passcode protection on the iPhone used by the shooter.

The two sides were set to face off in court on Tuesday, but on Monday a federal judge agreed to the government's request to postpone the hearing after U.S. prosecutors said a "third party" had presented a possible method for opening an encrypted iPhone.

The development could bring an abrupt end to the high-stakes legal showdown which has become a lightning rod for a broader debate on data privacy in the United States.

Read More: Apple's Tim Cook Kicks Off Product Launch by Addressing FBI Feud

Cellebrite, a subsidiary of Japan's Sun Corp, has its revenue split between two businesses: a forensics system used by law enforcement, military and intelligence that retrieves data hidden inside mobile devices and technology for mobile retailers.

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