This post was originally published on HUFFPOST TECH by Joseph Menn on March 21, 2016.
(Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors said Monday that a “third party” had presented a possible method for opening an encrypted iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, a development that could bring an abrupt end to the high-stakes legal showdown between the government and Apple Inc.
A federal judge in Riverside, California, late Monday agreed to the government’s request to postpone a hearing scheduled for Tuesday so that prosecutors could try the newly discovered technique. The Justice Department said it would update the court on April 5.
The government had insisted until Monday that it had no way to access the phone used by Rizwan Farook, one of the two killers in the December massacre in San Bernardino, California, except to force Apple to write new software that would disable the password protection.
The Justice Department last month obtained a court order directing Apple to create that software, but Apple has fought back, arguing that the order is an overreach by the government and would undermine computer security for everyone.
The announcement on Monday that an unnamed third party had presented a way of breaking into the phone on Sunday – just two days before the hearing and after weeks of heated back-and-forth in court filings – drew skepticism from many in the tech community who have insisted that there were other ways to get into the phone.
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