Justice Department asks to postpone hearing in iPhone encryption case

Just a day ahead of the first scheduled court hearing in Apple's encryption feud with the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has asked that the hearing be postponed in order to test a potential new method of unlocking the iPhone at the center of the case without Apple's help. From Politico:

"On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking [terrorist Syed] Farook's iPhone," federal prosecutors said in a filing 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. ("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," government lawyers wrote.

Pending the success of the government's newly discovered method of breaking into the Farook's iPhone, it's possible the case may not be pushed any further. There is no word yet on whether the DoJ's request will be granted, but we'll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

Update: Engadget now reports that the court has agreed to vacate the March 22 hearing, ordering the government to file a status report by April 5:

The Court has reviewed the government's Ex Parte Application for a Continuance. GOOD CAUSE HAVING BEEN SHOWN, the Court hereby ORDERS that the hearing in this matter set for March 22, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. is vacated, and the government is ORDERED to file a status report by April 5, 2016.

FBI vs. Apple