The Department of Justice on Monday asked to postpone a court hearing set for tomorrow on the high profile case of whether or not Apple should be forced to help the FBI break into an iPhone, reports Politico. Their request was granted.
For months, the DOJ has insisted they needed Apple’s help to break into the handset, as part of an ongoing terrorism investigation. Apple has steadfastly resisted, citing dangerous precedent, but the government may not need its help after all.
“On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking 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.”
“Accordingly, to provide time for testing the method, the government hereby requests that the hearing set for March 22, 2016 be vacated,” government lawyers wrote.
In February, Apple was ordered by a California judge to help the FBI break into an iPhone belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Apple declined, sparking a high-profile battle on privacy between the government and several tech giants.
After weeks of motions and sharp public comments, it appeared as though both sides were prepared to dig in for a long fight—just this morning Cook reiterated Apple’s stance at its iPhone SE event. So today’s vacate request comes as a big surprise.