DOJ To Court: Hey, Can We Postpone Tomorrow's Hearing? We Want To See If We Can Use This New Hole To Hack In
from the oh-really-now? dept
So, this morning we wrote about a new flaw found in the encryption in Apple’s iMessage system — though it was noted that this wouldn’t really have impacted what the FBI was trying to do to get into Syed Farook’s work iPhone. However, just a little while ago, the Justice Department asked the court to delay the big hearing planned for tomorrow afternoon, because of this newly disclosed vulnerability:
Since the attacks in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (?FBI?) has continued to pursue all avenues available to discover all relevant evidence related to the attacks.
Specifically, since recovering Farook?s iPhone on December 3, 2015, the FBI has continued to research methods to gain access to the data stored on it. The FBI did not cease its efforts after this litigation began. As the FBI continued to conduct its own research, and as a result of the worldwide publicity and attention on this case, others outside the U.S. government have continued to contact the U.S. government offering avenues of possible research.
On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook?s iPhone. 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.
Accordingly, to provide time for testing the method, the government hereby requests that the hearing set for March 22, 2016 be vacated. The government proposes filing a status report with the Court by April 5, 2016.
This could mean a variety of different things… including that the DOJ is looking for a way “out” of this case without setting the precedent it doesn’t want, after discovering that the case and public opinion didn’t seem to be going the way the DOJ had hoped it was going to go when it first brought it last month. Either way, there’s never a dull moment in this case…
Update: And the judge has accepted the request, meaning the hearing is off. The DOJ put out a statement trying to spin this as being about how they’re just really interested in getting into this one phone and not about setting a precedent:
Our top priority has always been gaining access into the phone used by the terrorist in San Bernardino. With this goal in mind, the FBI has continued in its efforts to gain access to the phone without Apple’s assistance, even during a month-long period of litigation with the company. As a result of these efforts, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI this past weekend a possible method for unlocking the phone. We must first test this method to ensure that it doesn’t destroy the data on the phone, but we remain cautiously optimistic. That is why we asked the court to give us some time to explore this option. If this solution works, it will allow us to search the phone and continue our investigation into the terrorist attack that killed 14 people and wounded 22 people.
Of course, that statement is more misleading bullshit from the DOJ. It’s pretty clear that the DOJ is just trying to get out of this case as it’s realized that the original plan completely backfired, and they were likely to lose.
Update 2: Okay, the court has officially posted its decision to grant the DOJ’s request. You can see it below as well.