Apple just scored a victory over its privacy concerns about unlocking iPhones at the request of government agencies. In a New York federal case today, a judge ruled that Apple was not required to unlock the security access to an Asian drug dealer’s iPhone 5c. The judge felt that the argument by the government that the very broad All Writs Act of 1789 gave them the right for that access was a failed argument. This case began before the current battle of Apple vs. the FBI over getting access to the San Bernardino terrorist’s data inside his phone. The drug dealer in the NY case had pleaded guilty, but the government was looking to get access to the man’s drug dealing connections inside the iPhone.
Judge James Orenstein expressed the concern that the government investigators were overreaching their powers in violation of the separation of powers established by the Constitution, assuming actions for themselves that they were not specifically given under law by Congress and that, under the CALEA statute passed by Congress, was prohibited.
Since the case is in a different federal jurisdiction, it will have no legal bearing on the California case, but Apple hopes it will indirectly influence it. Both the NY case and the San Bernardino one are expected to be appealed and may even go as high as the US Supreme Court. The way that the FBI has promoted their case in the media is a little skewed as to its ramifications and could have unprecedented consequences for privacy and freedom for anyone who uses any electronic product. It all comes down to if the American public wishes to (or is brainwashed to) give up their freedoms so the government can gain more control under the guise of “security.”
For more on this NY case and the pros and cons of the California case, consult these sources:
Brian Barrett, Judge Says Apple Doesn’t Have to Unlock iPhone in Case Similar to San Bernardino, Wired.com, February 29, 2016.
Cyrus Farivar, Apple prevails in forced iPhone unlock case in New York court, ArsTechnica.com, February 29, 2016.
Congressman Darrell Issa, Forcing Apple to Hack That iPhone Sets a Dangerous Precedent, Wired.com, February 27, 2016.
Geoffrey Grider, APPLE DOES NOT PROTECT USER DATA IN CHINA, BUT SHIELDS MUSLIM TERRORISTS IN AMERICA, Nowtheendbegins.com, February 26, 2016.