The Apple/FBI dispute over unlocking deceased San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook's iPhone just got more cloak and dagger. However, it won't be playing out in court as it was supposed to, at least not tomorrow.
Monday afternoon the FBI filed an application for a continuance, asking that a hearing scheduled Tuesday be vacated (read: cancelled) so that it has time to test a "possible method for unlocking Farook's iPhone" that they were informed of this weekend. You can read the entire (very brief) application on DocumentCloud, but the meat of it is here:
The FBI isn't dropping the issue entirely. It asked to be given until April 5 to determine if this mysterious new outside method is viable. The request was made just hours after Apple CEO Tim Cook began a keynote address by once again addressing privacy concerns and the case. The dispute over Farook's phone has been going on for several weeks, since Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to assist the FBI and Apple reacted by fighting the order.
This isn't the first news regarding an outside party offering help to the FBI in finding a way around the phone's encryption. Cybersecurity expert and noted weirdo John McAfee offered to try before admitting he was lying to get attention.
If it's any consolation, reporters and others who planned on watching the hearing can spend tomorrow afternoon wondering what mysterious outside party the FBI just made friends with. Or speculate wildly that this a way to live to fight another day and a better test case.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org