Apple tells New York court that the FBI doesn't need its help to unlock an iPhone
Back in February, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled against the government, stating that the 18th century's All Writs Act was not the appropriate law to cite when trying to get Apple to unlock an iPhone model. The All Writs Act is a statutory catch-all that allows the U.S. federal courts "to issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law." The Justice Department has been able to get courts to agree that the act could be interpreted as saying that tech manufacturers need to unlock their devices at the government's request. Orenstein's decision, if other courts agree with his way of thinking, could be a dangerous new precedent from the government's point of view. It would make the All Writs Act useless in its efforts to get Apple and other companies to unlock their devices.
In denying the government's motion requesting a court order against Apple, Judge Orenstein wrote, "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."
So that is where we stand as we await a ruling on the government's appeal from U.S. District Judge Margo Brody. She will either side with Orenstein, who says that the All Writs Act is not enough to force Apple to unlock its iOS devices at the request of the feds, or she will rule that the government can still use the act to force tech companies like Apple to unlock their products.
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