The Apple Vs. FBI case, which has been dragging on for some weeks now, has received a new twist with the Government asking for the postponement of a hearing on the topic.
It seems like the FBI has found someone able to get past Apple’s security systems — or at least someone, who hopes it can. In a filing submitted by the government to the court, it said,
On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farooks iPhone. Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for assistance from Apple Inc. (“Apple”) set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case.
Needless to say, the outside party remains completely anonymous as of now. The petition still leaves the way open for coercing Apple, should the third party fail.
Accordingly, to provide time for testing the method, the government hereby requests that the hearing set for March 22, 2016 be vacated. The government proposes filing a status report with the Court by April 5th, 2016.
The court has also granted approval to the FBI and has postponed the hearing until the 5th of April.
So basically, the government is stalling for time until it can reach a definite conclusion as to whether or not it can get through to Apple by other means. While the identity of the third party has not been disclosed, experts are pointing towards the National Security Agency as a probable candidate.
The agency has been known to step in from time to time. And this case is certainly one FBI won’t want to lose in courts — thereby setting a precedent that would keep the government from pressuring corporate entities into helping it.
Meanwhile, Apple seems to be at a loss with the turn things have taken and is waiting for either the NSA to break into the iPhone or for the FBI to approach it again in courts. Either way, Apples position is pretty unenviable. Although it does seem to have a slight edge over the FBI in the courts.
Update — 4:41 PM Pacific Time:
Apparently, a judge has granted the government’s request to postpone the hearing. There’s no news on the new date though.[Here’s the filing, as linked by Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica. First spotted by the EFF’s Nate Cardozo]