Ap­ple raised tech bar­ri­ers to stop war­rant in iPhone case: US Govt

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

The U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment on Thurs­day said Ap­ple Inc's (AAPL.O) rhetoric was "false" in a high-pro­file fight over the govern­ment's bid to un­lock an en­crypted iPhone be­long­ing to one of the San Bernardino shoot­ers.

Last month, the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion ob­tained a court or­der re­quir­ing Ap­ple to write new soft­ware and take other mea­sures to dis­able pass­code pro­tec­tion and al­low ac­cess to shooter Rizwan Farook's iPhone. Ap­ple has not com­plied. It said the govern­ment re­quest would cre­ate a "back door" to phones that could be abused by crim­i­nals and gov­ern­ments, and that Congress has not given the Jus­tice Depart­ment au­thor­ity to make such a de­mand.

The fil­ing was the Jus­tice Depart­ment's last chance to make its case ahead of a hear­ing set for March 22 in a River­side, Cal­i­for­nia fed­eral court. The clash has in­ten­si­fied a long-run­ning de­bate over how much law en­force­ment and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials should be able to mon­i­tor dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

In its brief, pros­e­cu­tors noted that Ap­ple has at­tacked the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion as "shoddy" and por­trayed it­self as "the pri­mary guardian of Amer­i­cans' pri­vacy."

Ap­ple's rhetoric "is not only false, but also cor­ro­sive of the very in­sti­tu­tions that are best able to safe­guard our lib­erty and our rights: the courts, the Fourth Amend­ment, long­stand­ing prece­dent and ven­er­a­ble laws, and the demo­crat­i­cally elected branches of govern­ment," pros­ecu- tors added. The govern­ment said Ap­ple "de­lib­er­ately raised tech­no­log­i­cal bar­ri­ers" to pre­vent ex­e­cu­tion of a war­rant. Ap­ple has said the govern­ment's re­quest would open the com­pany to pres­sure from re­pres­sive regimes to pro­vide sim­i­lar as­sis­tance. But the Jus­tice Depart­ment on Thurs­day ques­tioned whether Ap­ple is ac­tu­ally re­sist­ing such re­quests.

"For ex­am­ple, ac­cord­ing to Ap­ple's own data, China de­manded in­for­ma­tion from Ap­ple re­gard­ing over 4,000 iPhones in the first half of 2015, and Ap­ple pro­duced data 74 per­cent of the time," pros­e­cu­tors wrote. Ap­ple Gen­eral Coun­sel Bruce Sewell on Thurs­day said the brief reads "like an in­dict­ment" and called the claims about pro­vid­ing data to China a "smear" based on thinly sourced news re­ports.

Sewell said it was in­sult­ing to sug­gest Ap­ple de­lib­er­ately set out to pro­tect phones from war­ranted searches, say­ing its mea­sures are in­tended to keep ev­ery­one safe from mul­ti­ple threats. Ap­ple Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Tim Cook has said he is will­ing to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The FBI says Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tash­feen Malik, were in­spired by Is­lamist mil­i­tants when they shot and killed 14 peo­ple on Dec. 2 at a hol­i­day party. The cou­ple later died in a shootout with po­lice and the FBI said it wants to read the data on Farook's work phone to in­ves­ti­gate any links with mil­i­tant groups. Tech in­dus­try lead­ers in­clud­ing Google, Face­book and Mi­crosoft and more than two dozen other com­pa­nies filed le­gal briefs last week sup­port­ing Ap­ple. The Jus­tice Depart­ment re­ceived sup­port from law en­force­ment groups and six rel­a­tives of San Bernardino vic­tims.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment has re­peat­edly at­tempted to frame the Ap­ple case as one that is not about un­der­min­ing en­cryp­tion and that the court or­der nar­rowly tar­gets a "nonen­cryp­tion bar­rier" on one iPhone.

Ask­ing for de­cryp­tion ser­vices "would not be novel, ei­ther," pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued on Thurs­day. They cited an 1807 case hold­ing that a clerk work­ing for Aaron Burr, then a for­mer U.S. vice pres­i­dent, could be forced to de­code a let­ter penned by Burr if do­ing so did not lead to self-in­crim­i­na­tion. Pros­e­cu­tors crit­i­cized claims by Ap­ple that de­vel­op­ing the new soft­ware code would be bur­den­some for the com­pany. They noted Ap­ple "grosses hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars a year" and would only need ask a hand­ful of its 100,000 em­ploy­ees to work on the pro­ject for "per­haps as lit­tle as two weeks." The po­ten­tial bur­den on Ap­ple is a cru­cial test set out in a prior case, known as Moun­tain Bell, which held that a lo­cal phone com­pany could be or­dered to pro­gram the equip­ment in its fa­cil­i­ties in or­der to trace calls in progress.

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