The mysterious party that is assisting the FBI in its quest to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c may have finally been revealed today, and contrary to previous theories, it’s not the NSA.
Cellebrite, an Israeli tech firm specializing in mobile forensic software, has reportedly offered to help the FBI unlock the iPhone. Citing industry sources, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper says if Cellebrite succeeds, the FBI will no longer need Apple’s help with the case.
Apple and the FBI have been battling each other on the public stage for weeks over a federal court order demanding Apple build software that will allow the FBI to unlock the terrorist’s iPhone. Apple has refused to comply with the court order, arguing that being forced to write software is a violation of the company’s right to free speech.
Cellebrite officials and the FBI have declined to comment on whether they are working together, according to a report from Reuters. However Twitter user Zen Albatrose discovered the FBI signed a $15,000 contract with Cellebrite on March 21st.
FBI signed a contract with iPhone-cracking firm Cellebrite the day it told the court it found an "outside party" pic.twitter.com/LoN9Wm3cCQ
— ᴢᴇɴ ᴀʟʙᴀᴛʀᴏss (@zenalbatross) March 23, 2016
The case between Apple and the FBI has been postponed until April 5th when the FBI will file a report on the progress it has made on hacking the iPhone. A hearing between the two sides was scheduled for Tuesday of this week, but a the US Justice Department requested to have the hearing canceled late Monday after a third party revealed a possible way to hack the device.
If the case does keep going Apple has demanded that the FBI reveal the exploit they use to hack the iPhone. Although Cellebrite may end the current legal battle between the two titans, the debate on how to find a balance between encryption and public safety is far from over.