There's a twist in tale in the ongoing legal tussle between Apple and the FBI. The FBI says it does not need Apple's assistance to crack the iPhone used by the San Bernardino mass shooter because it has discovered a means of breaking into the device.
The FBI filed a motion with the court to delay Tuesday's hearing in the San Bernardino iPhone case. The agency claimed that it could crack the iPhone used by Syed Farook by enlisting the help of an "outside party" sans Apple's aid.
"On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook's iPhone," wrote the government lawyers in the court filing on Monday afternoon.
The unlocking procedure will be tested first to see if it is a feasible method that will not compromise the data on the iPhone. If it proves to be viable, then the FBI would no longer need Apple's assistance, as laid down in the All Writs Act Order.
The motion to postpone the Tuesday hearing comes several weeks after the case became the center of a privacy debate with Apple, FBI and several stakeholders locking horns publicly.
The court has agreed to the FBI's plea and suspended the encryption hearing. The hearing for Tuesday, March 22, at an L.A. court has now been "Vacated" and the government has been ordered to file a "status report" by April 5 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym.
The method the FBI will be deploying and who is helping it crack the iPhone are not clear. For those thinking the NSA could be the "outside party," the filing suggests that the FBI is getting aid from "outside the U.S. government."
"As the FBI continued to conduct its own research, and as a result of the worldwide publicity and attention on this case, others outside the U.S. government have continued to contact the U.S. government offering avenues of possible research," states the filing.
Whether this is a ploy on the FBI's part to coerce Apple into creating a back door that will help the agency bypass the encryption security measures is unclear.
The FBI will be submitting a status report before the court by April 5, which will reveal if the mysterious iPhone hack by the government works or not. If the FBI's unlocking method is successful, then the motion aimed at compelling Apple to aid and develop a "GovtOS" system capable of breaking security will be dropped. The standoff between the Department of Justice and Apple - in such an event - would finally come to a close.