A New York judge rejected a request by the U.S. government to force Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to help extract data from a locked iPhone in a move that could have an impact on the high-profile case related to a shooter in San Bernardino, Calif.
In the New York case, the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency had seized an iPhone 5 belonging to a suspect who pleaded guilty to drug charges in October. Law enforcement officers couldn't access data on the phone, though, and requested an order requiring Apple to assist the investigation "under the authority of the All Writs Act" by helping to bypass the phone's security features.
The All Writs Act is the 1789 law authorities have cited in the San Bernardino case. U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein denied the request, as The Intercept reported, applying case law interpreting the AWA and concluding that the law doesn't justify "imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the government's investigation against its will."
The judge also wrote that the law doesn't permit authorities "to compel Apple -- a private party with no alleged involvement in Feng's criminal activity -- to perform work for the government against its will."
The New York case is one of ten active cases in which Apple is fighting government efforts to compel the company to access data on locked iPhones. In the most noteworthy case, Apple is appealing an order to write and install the unlocking code sought by the FBI to access data from an iPhone linked to December's shootings in San Bernardino.
While the New York ruling isn't legally binding on the California judge, it gives Apple some legal footing. Apple this week is lobbying Congress to step in and decide the issues at stake in its battles with the FBI, taking the matter out of the courts' hands.
- see this Intercept article
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