In a new court filing, the government said an outside party had demonstrated a way for the F.B.I. to possibly unlock the phone used by the gunman, Syed Rizwan Farook. The hearing in the contentious case — Apple has loudly opposed opening the iPhone, citing privacy concerns and igniting a heated debate — was originally set for Tuesday.
While the Justice Department must test this method, if it works “it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple,” it said in its filing. The Justice Department added that it would file a status report by April 5 on its progress.
During a conference call with reporters, Apple attorneys indicated that they would insist on talking to the whoever is providing the exploit and wants to know about the vulnerability if the government insists on keeping the case alive. Which it probably won’t.
Apple attorneys also noted that at this point it’s impossible for the government to argue its original case that only Apple could get past of the security of the iPhone in question. If the DoJ drops the case, Apple has no legal way of asking for that information.
The new method could forestall, but is unlikely to entirely head off, a showdown between Silicon Valley and the Justice Department over encryption.
“This will only delay an inevitable fight over whether the government can force Apple to break the security of its devices,” said Alex Abdo, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, an advocacy group.
At its spring event announcing new products earlier on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook vowed to stand strong against the government’s efforts to conscript it into helping break into iPhones. “This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility,” Cook said. Apple also announced a new 4-inch iPhone model — the iPhone 6SE — that has all the latest encryption and security features inside, in addition to releasing an updated version of the software that runs its phones, iOS, that patches a hole in the end-to-end encryption offered in the iMessage app.
In the meantime, some US lawmakers are looking for another avenue to force cooperation in similar cases in the future. A group of US senators has begun circulating draft legislation that would give federal judges the authority to order technology companies like Apple to help law enforcement officials access encrypted data, sources familiar with the discussions tell Reuters.
Breaking: FBI asks to delay Apple trial so it can try hacking the iPhone again http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/21/11279714/fbi-iphone-apple-trial-delay?utm_campaign=theverge&utm_content=chorus&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter …
Letter on FBI v. Apple sent to the New York Times by a sixth-grader from Chicago.