This article has been updated Tuesday, March 22, to include video commentary from Jim Cramer.
The standoff between Apple (AAPL) and the FBI may finally be drawing to a close, but there's still a long way to go in the broader conflict.
Just a day after Apple CEO Tim Cook's dramatic speech at the tech giant's new products rollout Monday -- in which he defending consumers' rights to privacy over federal requests for private data -- the FBI hinted that it may be backing off in its request that Apple help unlock the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the slain terrorist's in December's mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., in which 14 were killed.
"We built the iPhone for you, our customers, and we know it is a deeply personal device," Cook said at Monday's product rollout. "We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and over our privacy. ... We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with our own government, but we believe strongly we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and your privacy."
Shortly after Cook's unveiling of new, smaller iPhones and iPads (which Real Money's Doug Kass deemed only a modest improvement, adding Apple to his short list), it was announced by the Justice Department that Apple's scheduled federal court hearing, which was slated for Tuesday, has been postponed indefinitely following a statement by U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker that the FBI may have found means to access the device on its own.
"On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook's iPhone," she said in a filing with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. "If the method is viable it would eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple."
The hearing would have marked an extension to Apple's weeks-long standoff with the FBI and Justice Department over Apple's refusal to comply with orders to participate in unlocking the iPhone.
(Apple is a holding of Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust.)
The country has long been divided on where to draw the line between national security and customer privacy, especially as threats of global terrorism mount, most recently with Tuesday mornings bombings in Brussels: two explosions detonated at a Brussels airport and one at a crowded metro reportedly killed 26, with dozens more injured.
Real Money launched a Twitter poll Tuesday to get readers' perspective on how the debate has changed in light of the FBI's ability to remove the iPhone security encryption through a third party:
In cracking San Bernardino iPhone, has FBI put privacy-nat'l security debate to rest? Read: https://t.co/yAPtKJN5ql¿ RealMoney (@TSTRealMoney) March 22, 2016
Cook has long maintained that Justice Department and FBI requests for new software to allow access to the slain San Bernardino killer's device would amount to "dangerous power" that could prove especially harmful if landed in the hands of cybercriminals or terrorists.
And according to a February Real Money poll, most iPhone users would prefer to have their personal data kept out of the hands of the government in the event of death. Of 567 Twitter voters, 49% of iPhone owners would like their private data handed to a beneficiary, and 44% would like to see their personal information erased altogether.