(Cyberwar.news) In Apple Inc’s final brief before a court hearing next week in its clash with the U.S. government over an encrypted iPhone, the company on Tuesday said the U.S. founding fathers “would be appalled” by the Department of Justice’s request.
The dispute between Apple and the government burst into the open last month when the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a court order requiring Apple to write new software and take other measures to disable passcode protection and allow access to the phone of one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, Rizwan Farook.
Apple said current law does not allow the government’s request.
Additionally, Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said the company has never provided any government with its proprietary source code, according to a sworn statement filed in court.
“According to the government, short of kidnapping or breaking an express law, the courts can order private parties to do virtually anything the Justice Department and FBI can dream up,” Apple lawyers argued in new court documents. “The Founders would be appalled.”
In addition, the company rejected the government’s previous contention, which characterized the court order as “modest” and relating to a “single iPhone.”
“Instead, this case hinges on a contentious policy issue about how society should weigh what law enforcement officials want against the widespread repercussions and serious risk their demands would create,” Apple lawyers argued.
The rhetoric between the government and Apple has ratcheted up steadily in advance of a scheduled March 22 court hearing with each filing, USA Today reported, while the substance of the argument has really never changed: That is, Apple says the court’s order amounts to an unprecedented breach of customer privacy, while the government says the order is narrow, and that national security interests trump whatever privacy claims Apple is making.
“This case arises in a difficult context after a terrible tragedy,” Apple contends. “But it is in just such highly-charged and emotional cases that the courts must zealously guard civil liberties and the rule of law and reject government over-reaching.”
USA Today reported further:
Apple’s new court filing comes less than a week after the Justice Department claimed that Apple had “deliberately raised technological barriers” between a warrant and the iPhone that authorities believe may contain additional evidence in the December mass shooting that left 14 dead.
“We look forward to responding to Apple’s arguments before the court on March 22,” Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce said last week.
“As we have said in our filings, the Constitution and the three branches of the federal government should be entrusted to strike the balance between each citizen’s right to privacy and all citizens’ right to safety and justice. The Constitution and the laws of the United States do not vest that power in a single corporation,” Pierce added.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, says the government’s request is akin to creating a “backdoor” into the iPhone. Company lawyers claimed in court documents that such a requested order was “neither grounded in the common law nor authorized by statute.”
“The government, nevertheless, contends that because this court issued a valid search warrant (to review contents of the seized iPhone), it can order innocent third parties to provide any service the government deems necessary or appropriate to accomplish the search,” the company contended.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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