On Thursday last week, Apple filed to extend the schedule of a New York-based court case concerning a password-protected iPhone, saying that proceedings should be delayed until the FBI has a chance to deduce the possible encryption workaround in the related San Bernadino case.
The motion was filed with the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in which Apple asks the court to delay proceedings until ten days after the DOJ submits its status report in the related San Bernadino case, in order that it may review new findings. The California case has a deadline set for April 5th.
On Monday last week the DOJ received permission to vacate a hearing in the San Bernadino case after an undisclosed third party suggested a possible way to break into the iPhone 5c linked to terror suspect Syed Rizwan Farook. Prosecutors said the FBI would not require Apple’s help if the workaround is proved successful.
Since the FBI is currently asserting the controversial All Writs Act to force Apple to help in both cases, Apple has suggested the possible iPhone hack in San Bernadino means the government no longer requires assistance in New York. The government has to prove necessity in order to assert the All Writs Act in court.
“In the interim, both the Court and the parties lack sufficient information to determine the most appropriate way for this matter to proceed”, Apple says. “Going forward without such information would be highly inefficient. Briefly staying the briefing schedule to allow these matters to crystalize is appropriate in light of the public importance of this issue”.
Meanwhile Apple reminded the court that the FBI’s application to force assistance in the NYC case has been pending since October and the motion is not time-sensitive as it concerns an iPhone whose owner has already pled guilty to drug-related charges.
The motion in New York is just the latest in a string of high-profile legal battles between Apple and the Justice Department regarding encryption of consumer electronic devices. A controversial issue in the tech community and law enforcement agencies, Apple’s resistance to the mandated assistance in court has triggered a national debate on how to balance privacy of individuals with national security…