What's new

Judge Rules in Separate Case That Apple Does NOT Have To Unlock an iPhone

dgstorm

Editor in Chief
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
911
Reaction score
328
enter-passcode-iphone.jpg

The biggest mobile tech news case that has been dominating the headlines (other than US politics) has been the feud between Apple and the FBI. It's back in the news cycle this morning, but in a separate case than the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone.

As a recap, the FBI has ordered Apple to hack/unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter, and Apple refused because it would require them to create software which would compromise the security of all of their iPhones. Apple also argued that it is a dangerous violation of civil rights and is unconstitutional for the FBI to even ask. Apple even went as far as filing a motion to have the FBI's court order vacated. That case is still pending, but that's not actually the case making the headlines today.

Apparently, there is another case in New York in which the FBI has ordered Apple to unlock an iPhone which was seized as evidence in a drug trafficking case. In that case, the iPhone in question is actually an older device, and it would be much easier for Apple to unlock the device. Despite that, Apple has argued against the order, claiming that unlocking the device would, "substantially tarnish the Apple brand." Judge James Orenstein, who is presiding over the New York case actually agreed with Apple's argument, and ruled that the FBI can NOT order Apple to unlock the device.

In this case, the FBI also attempted to compel Apple using the All Writs Act, just as it has in the San Bernardino shooting. In four separate parts of Judge Orenstein's legal brief he made these points,
  • "The established rules for interpreting a statute's text constrain me to reject the government's interpretation that the AWA empowers a court to grant any relief not outright prohibited by law.
  • "The extraordinary relief [the government] seeks cannot be considered 'agreeable to the usages and principles of law.'"
  • "It is also clear that the government has made the considered decision that it is better off securing such crypto-legislative authority from the courts, rather than taking the chance that open legislative debate might produce a result less to its liking."
  • "The government should not be able to run to court to get the surveillance power that Congress has deliberately kept from it. The future of digital privacy also hangs in the balance. If the government can force companies to weaken the security of their products, then we all lose."
Orenstein's final point (paraphrasing) was that the FBI and the Department of Justice were trying to circumvent the system by gaining broad authority that is not expressly permitted in the Constitution. He acknowledged that the digital age has created a complex situation, but that arbitrarily granting power to the FBI in this case would be unlawful. Furthermore, there needs to be more discourse on this matter through new legislation and not law enforcement.

So, basically, this judge concurs with Apple's assessment that Congress needs to address these technological hurdles through new legislation designed to work for 21st Century technology, and find a way to make it work without bypassing the Constitution in the process.

In a final note on this particular case, an Apple executive made it clear that this is not a binding legal precedent in regard to the San Bernardino case, yet it is still "an important precedent of opinion."

Source: NBCNews
 

JohnnyApple

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 27, 2010
Messages
498
Reaction score
135
Very glad to see this decision. This case doesn't have as much "wow factor" so all we can do is hope that the California judge also uses his brain and decides not to decide a case based purely on emotion.
 

4Nines

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jun 7, 2010
Messages
261
Reaction score
160
Thanks for the update! Looks like it's already going Apple's way.
 

NickJ

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2013
Messages
54
Reaction score
18
I wonder what they are trying to find that isn't available from the phone company.

Does iMessage encrypt all of the text messages and data that comes and goes from the device?
 
OP
dgstorm

dgstorm

Editor in Chief
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
911
Reaction score
328
I wonder what they are trying to find that isn't available from the phone company.

Does iMessage encrypt all of the text messages and data that comes and goes from the device?
Nope. You can get all the text messages from an iPhone (or any other smartphone) directly from the telecomms provider. You make an excellent point with your question... just why is the DoJ trying so hard to abuse the All Writs Act? It doesn't seem like there is too much you can get from the device that you can't already get in other ways during an investigation.
 
OP
dgstorm

dgstorm

Editor in Chief
Joined
Jul 27, 2011
Messages
911
Reaction score
328
If you think about it, this is actually an important and history-making case. Perhaps this case will spark genuine discussion amongst lawmakers to get some new 21st century friendly laws passed.
 

scifan57

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 24, 2012
Messages
31,398
Reaction score
36,574
Location
Regina, Canada
Although the decision in this New York case is not binding on the judge in the California case, it does set a precedent that will have to be considered by the judge in California as he's considering his decision.
 
Top