After sparring with Apple in recent weeks over the creation of a backdoor into one of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhones, the United States government has decided to cancel its March 22 hearing with the Cupertino-based company. According to a new court filing presented Monday, lawyers for the Justice Department claim to have found an outside entity capable of unlocking gunman Syed Rizwan Farook’s now infamous iPhone. Because of the newly presented avenue, the government says it no longer needs Apple’s help in the matter.
Despite constant urging from the FBI, Apple staunchly refused to bypass any of the security measures built-in to its flagship smartphone. As the U.S. government continued to pressure Apple into writing software it claimed would only be used on one phone, Tim Cook continued to stand firm in the company’s denial of help. Cook even went so far as to say Apple would “not shrink from this responsibility” during a March 21 product event, mere hours before the Justice Department decided to pull the plug on the hearing.
“On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone,” reads the Justice Department’s official filing. “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.”
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The filing further details a call placed by the United States Attorney to Apple’s counsel, asking for the company’s position on its desire to cancel the hearing. Just a few hours after the call was placed, a judge reportedly granted the motion and officially cancelled the hearing.
Originally, the FBI and Apple were due in court at 1 p.m. PST on March 22, where both parties were scheduled to give arguments regarding the case. U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym, who originally ordered Apple to create the backdoor, was set to preside over the arguments.