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FBI says it may be able to crack iPhone without Apple’s help

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iPhone 5C

The FBI has successfully requested the postponement of Tuesday’s court date with Apple after discovering a potential method for cracking the disputed iPhone handset.

The Bureau claims to have been contacted by a third party who has outlined a way to access the iPhone 5C recovered from the San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook.

Apple has steadfastly refused to follow a court order demanding the device be unlocked, a stance CEO Tim Cook emphatically underlined at today’s special event at the firm’s Cupertino Campus.

The two sides were due to meet in court to discuss the issue, which has divided opinion around the world, but the FBI says it won’t need Apple’s help if the proposed method works out.

The so-called “outside party” has the FBI “cautiously optimistic” that they’ll be able to access the information on the iPhone.

Thus, the government says it needs time to establish whether they’ll be able to by-pass the passcode without compromising whatever data remains on the phone.

Related: Apple vs FBI: Your questions answered

In the motion, first reported by Politico, the FBI wrote: “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. set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case.”

The Bureau added that it has been continuing to research possible methods for cracking the iPhone in the face of Apple’s refusal to assist.

The statement added: “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 US government have continued to contact the US government offering avenues of possible research.”

Last week, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden claimed the notion the FBI needed Apple’s help in the first place was “respectfully, bullshit.”

Whether the Feds really have found the method (or had it all along), or whether it's another episode in the political cat and mouse game between the two sides also remains to be seen.

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