Next Tuesday is Apple’s big day in court as it fights back against a government order attempting to compel the company to develop software that could threaten the security of its iOS mobile platform. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen the merits of Apple’s resistance debated to near-exhaustion, and supporters of both Apple and the feds alike are interested in seeing Apple’s motion finally ruled upon. As we get ready to see how that story unfolds, an interesting new twist has come up, with the government requesting that Apple present witnesses for the purposes of cross-examination.
Apple wasn’t expecting this development, although it was quick to name the pair of employees suited to field any questions that might come up: chief privacy engineer Erik Neuenschwander and global law enforcement manager Lisa Olle.
That the government is only just now asking for an evidentiary hearing with witness cross-examination, rather than bringing the issue up several weeks ago, is an odd move that may speak to the DoJ’s uncertainty in the strength of its case; arguing against a motion is one thing, and the feds may feel that they’ll have more wiggle room to defeat Apple’s motion if they can directly interrogate employees.
There’s always the possibility that strategy will backfire – and the FBI will be bringing a pair of its own witnesses, which Apple will have a chance to address. We’ll be bringing you full coverage of however this hearing goes down, as things unfold next week.