Apple was scheduled to head into court for the first major hearing in its battle with the FBI over the unlocking of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c on Tuesday, March 22nd.
But at the last moment Department of Justice has unexpectedly asked the court overseeing the proceeding to postpone the hearing as they’ve discovered a method to possibly unlock the iPhone without needing Apple’s help.
In a document filed by DOJ, it states (via Engadget):
On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone. Testing is required to determine whether it is available method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. (“Apple”) set forthin the All Writs Act Order in this case.
The government has asked the court to delay the hearing by two weeks. The DOJ also plans to provide a progress report on its tests to unlock the iPhone to the courts on April 5. Apple and DOJ may still end up in courts if the method doesn’t work.
The judge has agreed to vacate the hearing which was scheduled for Tuesday, March 22, and has asked DOJ to provide an update by April 5. In the meantime, the motion that ordered Apple to help FBI to unlock the iPhone has been suspended. So Apple is under no obligation to help FBI to unlock the iPhone at the moment.
Meanwhile, Engadget reports Apple attorneys held a press conference regarding the latest development, and have said that they will insist FBI handover details of the exploit that is used to unlock the iPhone. But if the government drops the lawsuit against Apple, then it won’t be obliged to provide the details.
Apple is fighting a drawn-out battle with the FBI over encryption. Apple has refused to make a software that disables an “auto-erase” feature that permanently deletes the data inside after 10 failed password attempts and eliminate the delay that locks you out of the iPhone if the wrong passcode is entered. It also wants Apple to implement a method that allows FBI to enter the passcode electronically, so it can unlock the terrorist’s iPhone by “brute-force”, trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.
Earlier Today, Tim Cook reiterated the company’s stand to help users to protect their data and protect their privacy, and the company’s intent to fight the case. He pledged that the Apple would not “shirk from this responsibility” to protect its users, just before unveiling the new 4-inch iPhone SE, 9.7-inch iPad Pro and new Apple Watch bands.
It will be interesting to find out who is helping the DOJ is unlocking the iPhone. We won’t be surprised if it is someone from the jailbreak community.