The heat hasn’t cooled off in the fight between Apple and the FBI over the encrypted iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter, a case that, due to the circumstances of the crime, has bled into mainstream media and divided not just companies but also citizens. Soon, however, the case might be taken to yet another step higher. Apple has just submitted it legal response to the federal court’s order and, in turn, is asking the courts to vacate the order on the grounds that the government is overstepping its legal boundaries and is setting a chilling precedent.
Most of Apple’s arguments are probably familiar to everyone by now but, almost amusingly, different parts of the US government are making it easier for Apple to make its case. While the FBi insists that this case will be limited to one and only one iPhone, lawmakers and government officials are already expressing their intent to force Apple to do the same for dozens, sometimes hundreds, of iPhones under their jurisdiction.
That is why Apple has likened this “govtOS” version that the FBI wants it to make to a “cancer”, sparing no colorful metaphors like the FBI itself is wont to do. It is a can of worms that cannot be closed once opened, says Apple. Once an insecure version of iOS, even a single one, was made, it would only be a matter of time before it falls into the hands of the very criminal that the US government is fighting.
In addition, Apple says that there is no legal ground for the court’s order and that the All Writs Act that the government is citing doesn’t give them the all-arching power to force companies like Apple to decrypt the content of its devices. And to add more weight to its arguments, Apple reiterates how the FBI made a blunder by reseting the iPhone’s iCloud password before consulting Apple, removing the possibility of getting the needed data without going through this whole legal and technical circus.
Apple’s formal legal response by no means is the end to the whole case. The court will still have to respond likewise. Considering the gravity of the case, it might even escalate to the Supreme Court. To give more weight to Apple’s position, Google and Facebook are reported to be ready to get their hands dirty and directly get involved by filing court motions supporting Apple.