DOJ Motion May Put Apple in No-Win Position by Resisting iPhone Order
NEWS ANALYSIS: A new U.S. Department of Justice motion reveals why Apple may be treading on weak legal ground in its resistance to a court order to help unlock an iPhone used by the suspect in a Dec. 2 mass shooting.A surprise filing by the U.S. Department of Justice shows Apple may be treading on weak legal grounds in its efforts to resist a court order that it help investigators unlock an Apple iPhone 5C used by Syed Farook in a mass shooting Dec. 2 in San Bernardino, Calif. The filing on Feb. 19 was a surprise because Apple still has nearly a week to respond to a court order that it help the FBI gain access to the phone. However, a hearing on the DOJ's new motion is set for March 22. The motion to compel Apple to comply with the Feb. 16 court order lays out the government's arguments to rebut Apple CEO Tim Cook's statements that the company would not cooperate with the court order to bypass the iPhone's security. In fact, the government's motion attempts to counter Cook's statements point by point, and even includes his letter to Apple's customers as its only exhibit. But the government's motion does a lot more than simply say Cook is wrong. The government also calls into question the veracity of Cook's assertions. For example, the government says in the filing that there is no truth to the claims that it wants Apple to create a back door, or to provide software to allow the government to break into any iPhone.
The DOJ motion says that all the FBI wants is to turn off the feature that will automatically erase the contents of the phone after 10 wrong tries of the pass code.