If the government can unlock the iPhone using “an outside party”, then Apple’s assistance is not needed anymore, a letter filed on Thursday by the iPhone maker in a Brooklyn federal court suggests (via Reuters).
You may recall that, earlier this week, the FBI asked the court to cancel the hearing in the San Bernardino iPhone case, as it may be able to break the seized device’s security with the help of a third party. An Israeli report said this anonymous service provider could be Cellebrite, a mobile forensic firm which has had a contract with the FBI since 2013.
Before the iPhone used in the San Bernardino shooting became the topic of a legal battle between Apple and the FBI, there was another iPhone in New York involved in a drug case. Back then, US Magistrate Judge James Orenstein asked Apple whether unlocking the iPhone would be “unduly burdensome”, and Apple answered yes.
However, since the government was able to obtain a court order forcing Apple to crack open the San Bernardino iPhone, the DOJ also signalled that it would appeal against Orenstein’s ruling that protected Apple from unlocking the iPhone used in the drugs case.
“On the other hand, if the DOJ claims that the method will not work on the iPhone here, Apple will seek to test that claim, as well as any claims by the government that other methods cannot be used,” Apple said in the letter.
Apple’s filing will delay the briefing scheduled in the New York case by at least 10 days after the DOJ files a status report on April 5 in the San Bernardino case.