Some progress has been made in the Apple debacle with the FBI. It turns out that Apple's objection to government requests for an iOS device cracking key began back in October, 2015. The ruling involves a drug case in Brooklyn, NY and the US Department of Justice. The judge's decision is provided in an article over at Reuters:
N.Y. judge backs Apple in encryption fight with government
The U.S. government cannot force Apple Inc (AAPL.O) to unlock an iPhone in a New York drug case, a federal judge in Brooklyn said on Monday, a ruling that bolsters the company's arguments in its landmark legal showdown with the Justice Department over encryption and privacy. . . .(Added emphasis, mine).
I strongly suggest reading the entire article. This is the first precedent case in this debacle and is going to carry some weight as similar cases progress, especially Apple's Motion To Vacate from last week regarding the FBI obtained terrorist iPhone.
Here is a link to a PDF of the full judgement:
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK:
IN RE ORDER REQUIRING APPLE, INC. TO ASSIST IN THE EXECUTION OF A SEARCH WARRANT ISSUED BY THIS COURT.
. . .
In deciding this motion, I offer no opinion as to whether, in the circumstances of this case or others, the government's legitimate interest in ensuring that no door is too strong to resist lawful entry should prevail against the equally legitimate societal interests arrayed against it here. Those competing values extend beyond the individual's interest in vindicating reasonable expectations of privacy – which is not directly implicated where, as here, it must give way to the mandate of a lawful warrant. They include the commercial interest in conducting a lawful business as its owners deem most productive, free of potentially harmful government intrusion; and the far more fundamental and universal interest – important to individuals as a matter of safety, to businesses as a matter of competitive fairness, and to society as a whole as a matter of national security – in shielding sensitive electronically stored data from the myriad harms, great and small, that unauthorized access and misuse can cause.
How best to balance those interests is a matter of critical importance to our society, and the need for an answer becomes more pressing daily, as the tide of technological advance flows ever farther past the boundaries of what seemed possible even a few decades ago. But that debate must happen today, and it must take place among legislators who are equipped to consider the technological and cultural realities of a world their predecessors could not begin to conceive. It would betray our constitutional heritage and our people's claim to democratic governance for a judge to pretend that our Founders already had that debate, and ended it, in 1789.
Ultimately, the question to be answered in this matter, and in others like it across the country, is not whether the government should be able to force Apple to help it unlock a specific device; it is instead whether the All Writs Act resolves that issue and many others like it yet to come. For the reasons set forth above, I conclude that it does not. The government's motion is denied.
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
February 29, 2016
JAMES ORENSTEIN U.S. Magistrate Judge