Apple says US founders would be ‘appalled’ by DoJ request

Apple Inc. says in court filing that US founders would be ‘appalled’ by Department of Justice’s request to break into iPhone

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A New York City Police officer (NYPD) stands across the street from the Apple Store on 5th Ave. in New York March 11, 2016.

The US founding fathers "would be appalled" by a Department of Justice request to break into an attacker’s iPhone, Apple Inc. said on Tuesday in its final brief before a court showdown next week.

“...According to the government, ...the courts can order private parties to do virtually anything the Justice Department and FBI can dream up. The founders would be appalled," the company said.

Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) obtained a court order requiring Apple to write new software and take other measures to disable passcode protection and allow access to the iPhone used by one of the California shooters in December.

Apple is fighting the court order and wants the court to reject the FBI request on the ground that it is forbidden by the Constitution.

Bruce Sewell, senior vice president and general counsel for Apple Inc., watches as FBI Director James Comey testifies during a hearing on "The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans' Security and Privacy" in Capitol Hill in Washington March 1, 2016.

The company has said the government request would create a "back door" into all iPhones, and that Congress has not given the Justice Department legal authority to make such a demand.

"Although silence is sometimes a weak indicator of intent, it is a different story when Congress actively considers legislation to address a major policy issue, yet deliberately declines to enact it," Apple said.

The FBI is investigating the mass shooting at an office party in San Bernardino in California - which killed 14 people - as an “act of terrorism,” and  wants to read data on the attacker Rizwan Farook’s phone to find out whether the two shooters had any contacts with militant groups.

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

The court's order “applies to a single iPhone and it allows Apple to decide the least burdensome means of complying," Justice Department lawyers wrote.

A law enforcement officer looks over the evidence near the remains of a SUV involved in the San Bernardino shooting attacks which killed 14 people in California, December 3, 2015

The government defends its request that there should be a balance between security and privacy.

“The Constitution and the three branches of the federal government should be entrusted to strike the balance between each citizen's right to privacy and all citizens' right to safety and justice," the Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said in a statement.

Yet an FBI victory could serve as a legal precedent backing requests for access to iPhones by law enforcement agencies throughout the US.

Over a dozen tech industry companies including Google, Facebook and Microsoft filed legal briefs earlier this month supporting Apple.

The Justice Department, on its side, has also received support from law enforcement groups and six relatives of San Bernardino victims.


TRTWorld and agencies