Will Apple stick to business as usual later this month at its press event for the new iPhone SE, Apple Watch, and Mac updates? Or will it use the very public stage to also address the ongoing FBI/San Bernardino/encryption controversy?

When Apple sent out invites this morning for its rare and much anticipated mid-year iPhone event, some were quick to point out that it will take place the same week as Apple is set to attend a federal court hearing in the high-profile FBI/San Bernardino case. Apple originally planned to hold the event earlier, but it reportedly later decided to push it back to March 21, one day before a hearing in the FBI case scheduled for March 22 at Riverside, Calif. federal court. 

Earlier this month Apple’s General Counsel Bruce Sewell appeared before the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing titled “The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans’ Security and Privacy,” where the company was questioned on its decision to refuse a judge’s order to assist FBI in unlocking an iPhone related to a suspect in the San Bernardino shooter case. The company’s main argument is that assisting FBI in the case “would set a dangerous precedent” and that the broader issue of encryption is a “political and policy question” that should be decided by new law and Congress.

And the latest in the case comes today as the Department of Justice filed another response to Apple in the case saying that its request “invades no one’s privacy” and that “Apple’s response is corrosive.” Another response from Apple is expected by March 15, and then both sides will appear in federal court in California on March 22 one day after Apple’s event. 

It will be the first big event Apple has had since the case went public in recent months, so it’s possible Tim Cook or other execs could take some time to address customers on, at the very least, the company’s stance on security and encryption, or perhaps the case directly. Of course, another outcome is that Apple’s product announcements at the event completely overshadow what comes of the hearing the next day and Apple uses that to its advantage.

Apple IS expected to spend some stage time on its new 4-inch iPhone SE, a 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and more, and the company will be live streaming the event as usual for iOS, Mac, AppleTV, and Windows users.

But do you think Apple and Tim Cook should address the FBI case at its event later this month? 

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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.