The plot thickens in the national security debate.

Less than a week after the FBI dropped its lawsuit against Apple — saying it had received help from a “third party” to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters — the government is offering similar assistance to an Arkansas prosecutor in a murder trial.

TechCrunch reports:

The case is the alleged murder of a couple by two teenagers, and the prosecution on Tuesday received a postponement to the trial in order to request help in unlocking the iPhone and iPod — something the lawyers didn’t even know was possible until Monday. Amazingly, the FBI agreed to help the very next day, Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland told the AP.

Court documents indicate that a “letter to Snapchat,” 10 pages of emails, and over 100 pages of “Facebook records” were being entered into evidence, so the defendant’s digital footprint isn’t exactly a total blank.

The specifics of the Arkansas situation are unknown, but TechCrunch has reached out to the prosecutor’s office for details. If the FBI succeeds, it will be the first instance of the “backdoor” technology used in the San Bernardino case will have been used elsewhere — exactly the situation that Apple wanted to avoid when it refused to accommodate the government’s request and fought to protect the privacy of its customers.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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