Apple said Thursday that if the government is able to successfully break into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, it may eliminate the need for the company to assist in a separate case involving the phone of a convicted drug trafficker in New York.
The company asked District Judge Margo Brodie to delay a briefing scheduled in the New York case until after the Justice Department files a status report on its ability to hack into shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5C.
The two cases are unrelated, but have been closely watched because the government is attempting to use the same law to compel Apple to help unlock the two phones.
The Justice Department unexpectedly canceled the first hearing in the San Bernardino case on Monday, claiming that a “non-governmental third party” had presented it with a possible means to access the phone without Apple’s help.
Currently, the government is appealing a recent decision in the New York case that Apple could not be forced to comply with the FBI’s demands. If the agency is successful in hacking into the San Bernardino device — related to the December terror attack in which 14 people were killed — the company said in a letter filed to Brodie filed Thursday, it will affect how the New York case proceeds.
“For example, if that same method can be used to unlock the iPhone in this case, it would eliminate the need for Apple’s assistance,” Apple said in the letter.
“On the other hand, if the DOJ claims that the method will not work on the iPhone here, Apple will seek to test that claim, as well as any claims by the government that other methods cannot be used," it continued.
The DOJ is expected to file a status report on April 5 in the San Bernardino case. Apple has asked for a delay of at least 10 days in the New York case.