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Apple vs FBI - The Basics, Explained By @BobGourley | @CloudExpo #Cloud
An update on the ongoing battle between Apple and the U.S. government regarding Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone
By: Bob Gourley
Mar. 20, 2016 09:00 AM
#AppleVsFBI – #FBIVsApple – The Basics, Explained, with Links to Original Documents
This post provides an update on the ongoing battle between Apple and the U.S. government regarding Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone, recovered by police after the horrific massacre in San Bernadino on December 2, 2015.
It is just days before the March 22, 2016, hearing in this long-running, highly publicized dispute between the FBI and Apple, with the FBI’s demands of Apple being variously termed “jailbreak,” put a backdoor into, brute force access, compromise security of, or any number of other descriptors, in the case officially known as In the Matter of the Search of an Apple iPhone Seized During the Execution of a Search Warrant on a Black Lexus IS300, California License Plate 35KGD203. It is a good time, among all the massive press coverage and legal wrangling, to get back to some of the basics of the legal proceedings.
On February 9, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced that the FBI was unable to unlock the iPhone and requests Apple to help. Apple concluded it could not help to the extent required to access the phone data. After attempting to resolve the matter out of court, Apple was ordered by U.S. Magistrate (Central District of California) Sheri Pym on Feb. 16 to assist the FBI in accessing Farook’s iPhone. On Feb. 25, Apple filed a motion to have the court vacate the order. Apple’s motion to vacate is supported by a who’s who of the security and tech law fields, in the form of amicus briefs filed last week by numerous influential individuals, companies and NGOs.
General overview of the law
In essence, Apple and friends argue, the government’s demands in this case exceed the intent of the All Writs Act. Apple and its supporters also contend that the government’s request violate the constitutional rights of Apple. Which specific constitutional rights are asserted to be violated differs somewhat among the briefs, and there hasn’t been time to review and inventory the arguments of all briefs.
Below is an outline of the law under which the Government has obtained an order to compel Apple to “unlock” Farook’s iPhone, and Apple’s defense to that Order.
All Writs Act
As pointed out in the amicus brief of 32 Law Professors (in support of Apple), “the AWA tasked the federal courts with a role that was “somewhat constrained.” This provision should not be construed so broadly as to essentially endow courts with legislative authority. Nor should it be used to give the district court a roving commission” to enlist third parties into law enforcement.” This professors’ amicus brief (as well as Apple’s and many others, argue that overreaching is what the court would do if it does not vacate the order.
Specific demands of the Order
Those first two specific orders—and the remaining five—go beyond mere technical assistance. The court order is in essence a work order requiring Apple to perform specific deliverables.
Motion to Vacate and supporting arguments of Apple and Amici
The Table of Contents of Apple’s motion to vacate goes on to very clearly outline Apple’s argument why the order should be vacated. That is, the Motion to Vacate explains in great detail why Apple believes the order requires Apple to provide unreasonable assistance and thus, runs afoul of the AWA. In addition to exceeding the scope of the AWA, the order if not vacated would, Apple further argues, violate Apple’s constitutional rights to free speech and due process.
Apple’s Motion to Vacate the order compelling it to assist the FBI makes the following arguments. In crafting its Motion to Vacate, Apple’s own words are clearer than any third pary (such as mine) summation.
That, in essence, is the core of In the Matter of the Search of an Apple iPhone Seized During the Execution of a Search Warrant on a Black Lexus IS300, California License Plate 35KGD203.
Of course many other issues are raised in the amicus filings, and ther are additional related filings that have occurred that are relevant to this matter, such as ongoing proceedings in a similar case in Brooklyn, New York, and a recently-released report of the Congressional Research Service that covers the California proceeding (as well as analgous actions if an individual owner of the data/phone is being compelled to provide law enforcement. I summarize that report here. There is no paucity of widely available information about this case on the Internet. When in doubt about, it is best to stick to the original documents such as those I have linked in this article.
Apple’s request to vacate the order will be heard on March 22, 2016.
The following are the Amicus Briefs in Support of Apple
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