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

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

Related phones

iPhone 5s
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A7, Dual-core, 1300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 1570 mAh(10h 3G talk time)



1. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 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.

2. combatmedic870

Posts: 986; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

I agree.

3. vincelongman

Posts: 5728; Member since: Feb 10, 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)

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?

8. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 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.

9. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 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.

6. Trakker

Posts: 283; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

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

10. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 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

13. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

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

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