US prosecutors said Tuesday they would not seek a court order to force Apple Inc to help unlock the iPhone of one of the four San Bernardino shooters, after a lawyer for the tech giant refused to say whether he would take a stand on the issue.
The case, brought by a man who is suspected of killing 14 people in December 2015 in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, is the latest to prompt a push by the Justice Department to force tech firms to help law enforcement access encrypted communications and information, in part to protect against terrorism.
Lawyers for Apple have said they will take no position on the San Bernardino case.
If Apple does not take steps to help the government, it could face legal sanctions by the US government, which has long argued that tech companies should be able to unlock smartphones and other devices without warrant.
A lawyer for Apple declined to comment on Tuesday, saying he was not representing the company in the case.
In the wake of the December 2016 shooting in the small California town of San Bernardino that killed 14 people, the FBI has sought to pressure Apple to help authorities unlock an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who was killed in a shootout with police.
The government said the device was used in the attack and that it was possible the iPhone had been tampered with.
Apple said last week that it would help the FBI unlock Farook’s phone.
The company is expected to show the San Bernadino court Monday its findings on the case, which could lead to a court-ordered order requiring the company to unlock Farooks iPhone.
In January, the U.S. government issued an order requiring Apple to unlock an encrypted iPhone that was used by one of two shooters involved in the San Francisco attack that killed six people in 2015.
The order also barred the company from making other Apple products that could allow law enforcement to access the phone, but it did not prevent Apple from providing a backup.