Apple 'raised technological barriers' to stop warrant in iPhone case: U.S. government

Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:05pm EST
 
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By Dan Levine and Dustin Volz

(Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday said Apple Inc's (AAPL.O: Quote) 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," prosecutors 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.   Continued...

 
The Apple Store is seen in Santa Monica, California, United States, February 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson