Apple says FBI out to 'rewrite history' in iPhone case

March 16, 2016
Protesters demonstrate outside an Apple Store as they object to the US Government's attempt to put a backdoor to hack into the A
Protesters demonstrate outside an Apple Store as they object to the US Government's attempt to put a backdoor to hack into the Apple iPhone, in Los Angeles, California on February 23, 2016

Apple fired anew Tuesday at the US government's legal fight to force it to break into an attacker's iPhone, saying the tactic would "appall" the country's founders.

Apple dug into its legal position in a written filing ahead of a hearing set for March 22 before a federal judge in Southern California.

Apple stuck to its argument that the FBI was overstepping legal bounds by using an All Writs Act to compel the company to help break an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the December terror attack in San Bernardino, California.

"The government attempts to rewrite history by portraying the Act as an all-powerful magic wand rather than the limited procedural tool it is," Apple attorneys said in a filing that responded to one submitted to the court a week earlier by the Justice Department.

"Thus, according to the government, short of kidnapping or breaking an express law, the courts can order private parties to do virtually anything the Justice Department and FBI can dream up. The founders would be appalled."

Apple urged the court to reject the FBI request on the ground it is forbidden by the Constitution.

'Modest' request?

Forcing Apple to help unlock an iPhone is a "modest" demand that may turn up vital evidence in a terrorist attack, the US government argued in a brief filed last week, upping the ante in its legal standoff with the technology giant.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing titled "The Encry
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing titled "The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans' Security and Privacy," on Capitol Hill, March 1, 2016 in Washington, DC

Apple, which is backed by a broad coalition of powerful rival technology firms and activists, argues that the FBI is seeking a "back door" into all iPhones as part of the probe.

The government brief, in sharp contrast, argued it is a single case of technical assistance in an important national security investigation.

"The court's order is modest," Justice Department lawyers wrote.

"It applies to a single iPhone and it allows Apple to decide the least burdensome means of complying."

An FBI victory in the case could serve as a legal precedent backing requests for access to iPhones by throughout the US.

Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell last week slammed the Justice Department brief as reading "like an indictment" and apparently crafted to smear the iPhone maker with innuendo such as implying a "sinister" relationship with China.

He bashed the "cheap shot" brief as "an unsubstantiated effort to vilify Apple" that was on a flimsy legal footing.

Apple attorneys said that the California-based company has "categorically and absolutely not" been asked by any government other than the United States to build a backdoor into a product.

The government brief said the request is similar to requiring telephone companies to install wiretaps under court orders.

Apple is "fully capable of complying with the court's order," lawyers wrote.

Explore further: US escalates fight with Apple over iPhone in attacks probe

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5 comments

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Moebius
1 / 5 (1) Mar 16, 2016
Tim Cook can probably now give a vivid description of what it's like to try and explain color to the blind.
Much like trying to explain that the current rapid climate change is due to us and almost only us.
antigoracle
not rated yet Mar 16, 2016
Oh, you Americans and your troubles. You don't realize, when you live in such distrust of your government, then you are trying to fix the wrong thing.
julianpenrod
not rated yet Mar 16, 2016
Among other things, a laugh when you consider how quiet all these technology firms were when there was big money to be made invading people's privacy with cameras on streets, software to monitor web browsing for companies. Now, however, it threatens to eliminate the hegemony a powerful company has on its technology and suddenly it's a "violation of human rights". A common tactic of the crook, try to protect themselves from harm by getting forces together, lying that what benefits the crook benefits all of mankind.
Incidentally, is antigoracle saying that the "government" can be trusted. That's only an act of vanity by the public when they mistrust the "government". It's like antigoracle is criticizing those living in the forest for always expecting bears or wolves to come by. And what is it antigoracle suggests that the public fix?
ForFreeMinds
not rated yet Mar 20, 2016
"Forcing Apple to help unlock an iPhone is a 'modest' demand that may turn up vital evidence in a terrorist attack"

Considering the FBI can already obtain all of Farook's cell phone call records and texts from his wireless provider, all of his emails from his email provider, all of his bank and credit card records from those companies, all of Farook's last backup to the cloud (and where government could have gotten all of the data if it hadn't tried to unlock the phone by having it backed up first automatically) likely all his search history from Google, what exactly "might" the government "turn up" that it can't now?

IMHO, they sabotaged their own effort to get the latest data by not allowing the phone to backup to the cloud, so they had an excuse to demand Apple provide a back door. A back door will be abused by those who merely obtain possession of your phone, and the police can obtain it by simply claiming its evidence.
antigoracle
not rated yet Mar 20, 2016
No..no Tim, the FBI are "upgrading" history, but unlike Apple, which makes things thinner the FBI are striving for a fatter All Writs Act.

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