"We apparently did not ever crack the code to get in," sheriff's spokeswoman Cindi West said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on Tuesday's appeals court decision.
The San Francisco-based Electronic Freedom Foundation has opposed the government's actions in the case because it believes easy-to-use encryption software should be used by everybody to prevent computer crimes and fraud, said Hanni Meena Fakhoury, an attorney for the foundation. The case could render those privacy protections useless, he said.
"The government is flipping that on its head and saying encryption is only good for criminals to hide what they're doing," Fakhoury said. "It's very decoder 'ringish.' But this is not some sleuth criminal tool."
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