FBI: hey, we may not need Apple’s help to break into an iPhone

The FBI has filed a motion to delay today’s hearing in the San Bernardino iPhone case, claiming that an "outside party" may be able to help it break into the smartphone without Apple's help. 

This is an unexpected about-face. Government lawyers have, to this point, insisted they needed Apple to write special software so that the FBI could bypass the security features on the iPhone being used by the shooter, Syed Farook, and obtain information critical to their ongoing terrorism investigation.

"On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook's iPhone," federal prosecutors said in a court filing on Monday afternoon. "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. set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case …. "Accordingly, to provide time for testing the method, the government hereby requests that the hearing set for March 22, 2016 be vacated.”