Judge clears Apple from having to hack iPhone in New York case, could set precedent in San Bernadino controversy

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Date: Tuesday, March 1st, 2016, 08:10
Category: iOS, iPhone, Legal, News, security, Software


This is interesting.

Although it’s not tied to the headline-grabbing San Bernadino case, a federal judge has denied a government motion to force Apple to unlock an iPhone. The ruling could have implications for Apple’s current battle with the FBI over San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone 5c.

In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled on Monday that the All Writs Act is being applied overly broadly by the government.

The case concerns an iPhone 5s used by a meth dealer who later pled guilty. Although the iPhone wasn’t running iOS 7 or later and wasn’t encrypted by default, it was felt that Apple could extract the data without needing to break the phone’s passcode.

The judge, in turn, struck down an order for Apple to break into the iPhone in question.

At present, Apple is making the legal argument that the All Writs Act should not apply the these warrants. The law, which was first passed in 1789 and updated most recently in 1948, argues that the government is authorized to issue warrants that aren’t covered by other existing statue, making this a catch-all in some cases. Apple says that the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which outlines specific guidelines, is more appropriate, or a new law yet to be passed.

Judge Ornstein offered the following comment:

“[T]he established rules for interpreting a statute’s text constrain me to reject the government’s interpretation that the AWA empowers a court to grant any relief not outright prohibited by law.” Later the ruling continues, “The relief the government seeks is unavailable because Congress has considered legislation that would achieve the same result but has not adopted it.”

Apple is still under fire for refusing the decrypt the iPhone 5c used by one of the shooters in the San Bernadino shooting last year and has been at the center of an “encryption versus privacy” controversy for the past few weeks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via Macworld

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