March 22, 2016
The FBI asked to postpone a hearing scheduled for today regarding the Apple encryption case. The Justice Department may no longer need the tech company’s help in opening an iPhone used by gunman Syed Rizwan Farook in the San Bernardino shootings. A third party has reportedly come forward with a technique to help unlock the phone, which is currently being tested. Judge Sheri Pym of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted the Justice Department’s motion to postpone. The government is required to provide an update to the court by April 5.
“Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone,” the Justice Department wrote in its filing (as reported by The New York Times). “If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple.”
The third party has not yet been revealed, but if the federal government is able to open the phone, it is expected to change the direction of the ongoing battle between Apple and law enforcement regarding security and privacy issues. However, it does not mean that a showdown is not inevitable.
Apple believes that giving in to the government’s demands would compromise “the privacy of its many customers and the strength of its overall product security” notes NYT. “President Obama said this month that law enforcement authorities must be able to legally collect information from smartphones and other electronic devices, adding that he opposed the stance on encryption taken by tech companies like Apple.”
“We believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy,” said Apple chief exec Tim Cook at yesterday’s product launch event (as reported by Re/code). “We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country. This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility.”