US Govt accuses Apple of creating tech barriers to impede San Bernardino investigation

11 Mar 2016

In a new filing the FBI accuses Apple of hiding behind tech and rhetoric, Apple say latest filing is hostile and desperate

In its latest legal filing, the US Government attorneys acting on behalf of the FBI have accused Apple of raising technological barriers to prevent it executing its warrant to unlock the encryption of the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino killers.

In what is the third motion to be filed in the Central District Court of California, the attorneys acting on behalf of the US Department of Justice pulled no punches and accused Apple of hiding behind rhetoric.

“The government and the community need to know what is on the terrorist’s phone, and the government needs Apple’s assistance to find out,” attorneys said in a filing.

“For that reason, the court properly ordered Apple to disable the warrant-proof barriers it designed. Instead of complying, Apple attacked the All Writs Act as archaic, the court’s order as leading to a ‘police state,’ and the FBI’s investigation as shoddy, while extolling itself as the primary guardian of Americans’ privacy.”

It further adds: “Here, Apple deliberately raised technological barriers that now stand between a lawful warrant and an iPhone containing evidence related to the terrorist mass murder of 14 Americans. Apple alone can remove those barriers so that the FBI can search the phone, and it can do so without undue burden.”

Apple had previously argued that Congress forbade the action proposed in the earlier court order, citing the 1994 Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act as a precedent.

However, the latest filing rejects this.

It also questions Apple’s claims that the proposed firmware update would threaten the security of millions of iPhone owners.

Apple legal counsel describes latest filing as ‘desperate’ and ‘hostile’

Apple has been ordered by a court to help crack the iPhone of the deceased Syed Farook, who with his wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and injured 22 others at San Bernardino in California.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has already warned that creating a backdoor for law authorities into iPhone devices would be like creating the “software equivalent of cancer”.

However, Apple’s legal counsel Bruce Sewell has shot back at the filing, describing it as hostile.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a legal brief more intended to smear the other side,” Sewell said. “To do this in a brief just shows the desperation that the Department of Justice is now feeling.”

US government image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years