FBI May Not Need Apple's Help After All
'Outside party' has demonstrated way to break into iPhone
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2016 1:47 AM CDT
Updated Mar 22, 2016 6:03 AM CDT
More than one way in?   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster,File)

(Newser) – A new twist in the Apple-FBI showdown means there may be no showdown after all. In a court filing Monday—a day ahead of the latest court hearing on the FBI's demand for Apple to unlock San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone—the Justice Department announced that a third party has suggested another way to get into the phone, the New York Times reports. If the method demonstrated by the outside party over the weekend succeeds, "it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple," according to the court filing. A federal judge granted the request to delay Tuesday's hearing and ordered the government to deliver a status report by April 5, the AP reports.

US Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym also stayed her order for Apple to help investigators bypass security features on Farook's iPhone, which would have been the focus of Tuesday's hearing. The new development gives Apple some breathing space in the standoff with federal prosecutors, the Los Angeles Times reports, though it now has to deal with the fact that an unknown party may have developed a way to bypass its security features—and experts say the showdown over encryption is bound to happen sooner or later, whatever happens in the Farook case. Analysts also note that since the involvement of an outside party undermines federal authorities' claim that only Apple can help them get into the locked phone, they must be very confident in the newly revealed technique.