Apple Says Government Is Trying To 'Rewrite History' In San Bernardino Shooting Case
Apple filed a new court brief in its ongoing legal battle with the government over the locked iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. In the recent court filing Apple speaks plainly and argues that the government is seeking to "rewrite history" with its interpretation of the All Writs Act.
Apple argues that the government's reliance on the All Writs Act dating back to 1789 as justification for the request is an attempt to "rewrite history by portraying the Act as an all-powerful magic wand rather than the limited procedural tool it is". Further, Apple contends that the government's interpretation of the All Writs Act would effectively enable the courts to "order private parties to do virtually anything the Justice Department and FBI can dream up".
Previously prosecutors representing the United States government filed a court document to support the motion to compel Apple to unlock the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, calling the original order a "modest" request that would not result in a universal "master key" and dismissing many of Apple's legal arguments. Further the document points out that the All Writs Act does, in fact, give the courts the power to compel Apple to unlock the iPhone, disagreeing with previous Apple's argument that Congress' choice not to expand on the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act serves as evidence Congress has limited the assistance companies must provide to law enforcement.
In the earlier filing, the government disagrees with the notion that the software could be used on other devices and could fall into the hands of hackers or lead to Apple being forced to comply with data requests from foreign governments.
Apple speculates that if it submits to a lawful order to assist with a constitutional, warranted search of a consenting customer's phone in America, Apple will have no choice but to help totalitarian regimes suppress dissidents around the globe, and "hackers, criminals, and foreign agents" will have access to the data on millions of iPhones. This putative public burden, Apple argues, is a basis to relieve it from the Order. Apple's fears are overblown for reasons both factual and legal.
Last week, Apple legal chief Bruce Sewell commented that government filing is a "cheap shot" at the company and says the brief's tone "reads like an indictment". He says it is an "unsupported, unsubstantiated effort to vilify Apple" rather than an effort to cover the issues in the case.
This recent filing from Apple is supposed to address the last week government filing and outlines Apple's arguments as to why the All Writs Act should not apply in this situation. Apple further urges the court to consider the broader context of the case:
Furthermore, the Justice Department and FBI argue that this Court must decide the issue in a vacuum, without regard to either the swirling national debate about mandating a back door or the dangers to the security and privacy of millions of citizens posed by the relief they seek on behalf of the United States. But to determine whether this is an issue capable of judicial resolution under the All Writs Act and the Constitution, the Court not only can consider this broader context, it must do so. Indeed, the Justice Department and FBI are asking this Court to adopt their position even though numerous current and former national security and intelligence officials flatly disagree with them.
The company reiterates a number of positions the company has previously described, including belief that this issue needs to be settled legislatively and that the imposition of the order would cause "unprecedented and offensive burdens" and violate both Apple's First Amendment rights and the Due Process Clause.
This case arises in a difficult context after a terrible tragedy. But it is in just such highly-charged and emotional cases that the courts must zealously guard civil liberties and the rule of law and reject government overreaching. This Court should therefore deny the government's request and vacate the order.
Apple's filing also took offense at the DOJ's recent assertion that Apple's strong stance on encryption amounts to nothing more than a marketing ploy. Specifically, Apple said that it has put out nearly 2,000 ads worldwide and that they have never once used encryption as a marketing lure.
Apple end its filing by saying the government's motivations are understandable, but the methods it employs is questionable and is against the democratic process, and the rights of the American people.
A formal court hearing, where Apple and the FBI are to argue their cases before a judge is scheduled on March 22, the day after Apple's media event where it is expected to introduce a new 4-inch "iPhone SE" and a new 9.7-inch iPad, as well as make a few additional announcements.
Source: Business Insider