The FBI has said it may no longer need Apple’s assistance in opening the locked iPhone belonging to an attacker in December’s San Bernardino, California shooting.
As reported by the BBC, a court hearing with Apple scheduled for today (March 22nd) has been postponed at the request of the US Department of Justice, after federal authorities said they may have found a way to unlock the smartphone without Apple’s cooperation.
Apple has so far refused to compromise the encryption of its devices, claiming that doing so would set a dangerous precedent. “The reality is if you put a backdoor in, that backdoor is for everybody – for good guys and bad guys,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook last year.
The court case itself may now be irrelevant, after an “outside party” approached the FBI claiming it could unlock the iPhone. The government has until April 5th to decide whether it wants to pursue the case, which – if it can’t break Apple’s encryption – will resume as normal.
Should the case be dropped, however, the Guardian reports that Apple will not be treating the development as a legal victory. With the central issues surrounding access and encryption still unresolved, it could be just a matter of time before they resurface.
Moreover, if the government is able to open the locked device, a new question arises over whether federal authorities are obligated to share the security flaw with Apple, which would surely then patch it.
The controversial case has sent ripples through the tech industry, with many large companies recently looking to bolster their encryption.
Meanwhile, as noted by the New York Times, Apple continued to emphasize the value that the company places on privacy at its product launch event this week.
“This is an issue that impacts all of us and we shall not shrink from this responsibility,” Mr. Cook is reported to have said.