A federal judge has agreed to vacate a hearing scheduled for tomorrow between the Department of Justice and Apple over unlocking an iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. The DoJ requested the hearing be vacated, after it says an outside party has come forward with a method of unlocking the device that doesn’t require any cooperation from Apple. Judge Sheri Pym has asked the government to provide an update by April 5.
“On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking [terrorist Syed] Farook’s iPhone,” federal prosecutors said in a filing Monday afternoon. “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 the assistance from Apple Inc. (“Apple”) set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case.”
The government requested a two week postponement for the hearing, delaying it until Tuesday, April 5. The feds will use that time to determine if the proposed method can be used to crack the iPhone in question.
A federal magistrate judge in February ordered the company to assist the FBI in unlocking an iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Complying with that order would force the Cupertino firm to create a new variation of iOS that would allow brute-force attacks to bypass the four digit passcode used by Farook to lock his iPhone.
Apple has resisted the order, and other federal efforts to allow access to similar devices, stressing that creating such a “backdoor” would set a dangerous legal precedent, allowing law enforcement agencies the leverage needed to use the same arguments in similar cases. The company also has expressed concern that such a modified version of iOS could end up in the hands of the bad guys, allowing them the same access to users’ devices, creating a whole new crisis over user privacy.