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After three months, Apple wants a judge to rule whether it must unlock an iPhone 5s for the DOJ

Posted: , by Alan F.

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After three months, Apple wants a judge to rule whether it must unlock an iPhone 5s for the DOJ
United States Magistrate Judge James Orenstein has been holding off for three months on making a ruling involving an iPhone involved in a trial over the distribution of narcotics. Back in October 2015, Judge Orenstein had asked Apple to appear in court to explain why the tech titan shouldn't be forced to unlock an Apple iPhone 5s owned by one Jun Feng.

Feng had pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Orenstein smartly asked the government why Apple's cooperation was needed in light of the defendant's guilty plea. The government's response was that the issue was not moot because Feng had pleaded guilty to a narcotics conspiracy, and a search warrant had been issued to find evidence of that conspiracy. The government said that the warrant could not be executed without searching "the target phone."

Interestingly, had Feng's phone been updated to iOS 8, like 90% were at the time, there wouldn't be anything that Apple could do about the encrypted information inside the device. But alas, the felon apparently had more important things on his mind than updating his iPhone.

Feng is to be sentenced on April 19th, so the judge will have to make a ruling before then. Both Apple and the DOJ are waiting eagerly to hear the decision. 

source: ArsTechnica

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posted on 12 Feb 2016, 22:38 10

1. Napalm_3nema (Posts: 2236; Member since: 14 Jun 2013)

I hope this is a solid "NO." The guy already confessed and was sentenced, so this is just a power play by authorities to further erode our constitutional rights.

posted on 12 Feb 2016, 23:24

2. combatmedic870 (Posts: 911; Member since: 02 Sep 2015)

I agree.

posted on 13 Feb 2016, 01:06

3. vincelongman (Posts: 5043; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)

Agreed, this will set a bad precedent and encourage authorities to break more of our constitutional rights (even as a non-american, since lots of countries would allow America)

posted on 13 Feb 2016, 04:19

4. willard12 (unregistered)

Which constitutional right would be eroded? If it is the 4th amendment protection against illegal search and seizure, law enforcement seeking a court order from a judge is the protection. The guilty plea in itself is probable cause. The only question is whether a corporation can be compelled to assist in the search, which has nothing to do with the constitution. An erosion of the constitution would exist if the FBI forced Apple to do it without going through a judge. Besides, I thought the government was listening to all of our conversations and reading our data anyway. Why would they need Apple?

posted on 13 Feb 2016, 05:08 1

5. lyndon420 (Posts: 4952; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)

What about the constitutional rights of those who's names appear in this guy's contact list? Just because he plead guilty doesn't mean everyone else forfeits their rights.

posted on 13 Feb 2016, 09:55

7. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4746; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)

How would that be any different if he had an little black book for his business partners? Or if they were on his dumbphone?

I agree with Willard on this one. If they have a valid court order, then Apple should cooperate. At least it's not like with the metadata BS were they were using a secret court to rubberstamp data mining. This is the way they're supposed to do it. If we don't allow them to do their jobs, then what good is law enforcement?

This is a balancing act, we should try preserve as much as our rights as possible, but we also have to be able to allow law enforcement to do their jobs. As far as the people in his contact list, maybe they shouldn't be associating with drug dealers.

posted on 14 Feb 2016, 07:37

12. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 14045; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)

So you're saying he doesn't have friends that have nothing to do with drugs?

It's his phone they have no right it.

Even if he used his phone to do his sells, so what.

He plead guilty because he was guilty.

I'm sure he drove his car to many of those sells, did they confiscate his car too?

posted on 14 Feb 2016, 07:34

11. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 14045; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


posted on 13 Feb 2016, 12:58

8. Napalm_3nema (Posts: 2236; Member since: 14 Jun 2013)

One, their use of the 18th century commerce All Writs Act is highly suspect, as noted by te judge in the case, and this stretch could be used to compel any company to unlock your device with a warrant if this precedent is set. That would go well beyond simply "finding" evidence to make a case because of all of your personal possessions, your smartphone might be the most incriminating item you own. By forcing Apple, Google, or anyone else to become agents of the law, well outside the framework of the judicial branch's powers, it could erode your 4th Amendment AND 5th Amendment rights.

posted on 13 Feb 2016, 15:07

9. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4746; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)

You're saying they're using an 18th century Act like it's a bad thing, yet the rights and privileges you have come from the Constitution, and when was that put into effect again?

They can force a landlord to open your apartment, or a locksmith to open your car with the proper warrant.

I don't want them to abuse their power anymore than anyone else, but at the rate some of you are going whats the point of law enforcement? Unless police witness the crime or it happens in an open street or other public place, someone's rights are going to be infringed upon during an investigation.

posted on 13 Feb 2016, 08:12

6. Trakker (Posts: 283; Member since: 11 Feb 2016)

I commend Apple for this one and only moment they won't go 1984 on it's customers

posted on 14 Feb 2016, 07:31

10. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 14045; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)

Even if through judge rules, if I was Apple I still.woildnt do it.

The guy already bead guilty. They don't need his phone. They just want to convict other people.

I would tell the judge to go f**k himself

posted on 14 Feb 2016, 09:19

13. sissy246 (Posts: 3875; Member since: 04 Mar 2015)

If it would help to get more drug dealers off the streets I agree with making apple unlock it.

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