Surprise! The FBI has made a big production of trying to force Apple’s hand in unlocking an iPhone, Apple has waged a big legal battle to keep the government out of its users’ phones, and Snowden has claimed the FBI has been able to unlock the phone all along. It’s a revolving circus of serious litigation and possible precedent-setting court rulings, and it has just presented a big plot twist: the FBI may have just found a way to crack the iPhone, a new court document reveals.
This particular FBI vs. Apple issue involves the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, and a possible avenue of access that doesn’t involve forcing Apple’s hand. The FBI has filed an Application for a Continuance of the trial that is set for tomorrow, asking that it be vacated. In its place, the government will file a status report on April 5 about whether it will drop the case or will pick up where it left off.
The reason, according to the document, is the fruitful conclusion of the FBI’s continued pursuit for a way into the iPhone. “The FBI did not cease its efforts [to crack the phone] after this litigation began,” the document reads. The file continues:
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 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 U.S. Attorney contacted Apple this afternoon to ask for the company’s position on the new application; no response has been provided yet. The possible solution for accessing the iPhone, as well as who presented the method, has not been disclosed. We likely won’t find out whether it was successful until early next month when — if the application is accepted — the FBI files its status update report.