U.S. appeals ruling on accessing iPhone data in New York case

WASHINGTON - Calling a New York judge's ruling "an unprecedented limitation" on judicial authority, the Justice Department has asked a Brooklyn federal court to reverse a decision that said Apple Inc.

See Full Article

wasn't required to pry open a locked iPhone.

The government's 45-page brief comes a week after U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein issued his decision in a routine drug case, dealing a blow to the Obama administration in its battle with the tech giant over privacy and public safety.

Lawyers for the Justice Department called their Monday request routine, arguing that the case is not about asking Apple to do anything new, or to create a "master key" to access all iPhones. Apple has opposed the government's move in a separate case involving the shooter who killed 14 people Dec. 2 in San Bernardino, California.

Apple's pushback has fueled a national debate over digital privacy rights and national security. Apple had previously assailed the government's move, saying U.S. officials were seeking "dangerous power" through the courts and trampling on the company's constitutional rights.

The Brooklyn case involves a government request that is less onerous for Apple and its phone technology. The so-called extraction technique works on an older iPhone operating system and has been used dozens of times before to assist investigators.

The California and New York cases both hinge on the government's interpretation of the centuries-old All Writs Act. The new cases present another challenge for federal courts, which have to sort out how a law that is used to help government investigators square privacy and encryption in the digital age.

The government asserted in court papers Monday that Orenstein's ruling in New York is "an unprecedented limitation on" judicial authority and that his legal "analysis goes far afield of the circumstances of this case." It also stated that the government "does not have any adequate alternatives" to obtaining Apple's assistance because attempting to guess the passcode would trigger the phone's auto-erase security feature.

Federal prosecutors cited several examples in which Apple has extracted data from a locked device under the law, including a child exploitation case in New York, a narcotics case in Florida and another exploitation case in Washington state.

Apple responded Monday: "Judge Orenstein ruled the FBI's request would 'thoroughly undermine fundamental principles of the Constitution' and we agree. We share the judge's concern that misuse of the All Writs Act would start us down a slippery slope that threatens everyone's safety and privacy."

In October, Orenstein invited Apple to challenge the government's use of the 1789 law that compelled the company to help the government obtain iPhone data in criminal cases. Since then, lawyers say Apple has opposed requests to help extract information from over a dozen iPhones in California, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York.

In the California case, officials are looking for access to the phone used by Syed Farook but owned by San Bernardino County, where he was a health inspector. Federal investigators say the attack by Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, was at least partly inspired by the Islamic State group. The couple died later in a gun battle with police.

FBI Director James Comey told a House judiciary panel last week that the government was "asking Apple to take the vicious guard dog away and let us pick the lock" on the iPhone. Should Apple create the specialized software to allow the FBI to hack the iPhone in California, Comey said it would take 26 minutes to do what's known as a brute force attack - testing multiple passcodes in quick, computational succession.

Apple has said that being forced to extract information from an iPhone, no matter the circumstance, "could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand."


Latest Tech & Science News

  • Schiaparelli Mars probe crash-landed, may have exploded, says ESA

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Images taken by a NASA Mars orbiter indicate that a missing European space probe was destroyed on impact after plummeting to the surface of the Red Planet from a height of two to four kilometres, the European Space Agency said on Friday. Source
  • European Space Agency says Mars probe may have exploded

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BERLIN -- The European Space Agency says its experimental Mars probe crash-landed and may have exploded when it hit the surface of the red planet Wednesday. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken pictures showing a black spot in the area where the craft, called Schiaparelli, was meant to land. Source
  • Facebook removes breast cancer video, citing 'inappropriate' content

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Facebook is under fire for removing a cartoon breast cancer awareness video due to “inappropriate” content. The video, posted by the Swedish Cancer Society, demonstrated how to perform a self-breast exam with round pink circles mimicking breasts. Source
  • Cincinnati Zoo rejoins Twitter following Harambe controversy

    Tech & Science CTV News
    In this May 30, 2016 file photo, Alesia Buttrey, of Cincinnati, holds a sign with a picture of the gorilla Harambe during a vigil in his honour outside the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) Source
  • U.S. internet disrupted as key firm gets hit by cyberattack

    Tech & Science CTV News
    LONDON -- There have been reports of internet disruption across the East Coast of the United States after a key firm was hit by a cyberattack. New Hampshire-based Dyn said its server infrastructure was hit by a distributed denial-of-service attack, which works by overwhelming targeted machines with malicious electronic traffic. Source
  • Major websites down in U.S. East Coast after suspected cyberattack

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Some major internet companies suffered service disruptions on Friday due to what internet infrastructure provider Dyn said was an ongoing interruption of its network mainly impacting the U.S. East Coast. But as of about 9:36 a.m. Source
  • How to watch the Orionid meteor shower Friday night

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Stargazers will be able to catch the annual Orionid meteor shower on Friday night during its second night of a two-day peak but unfavourable conditions could make it difficult to see. According to NASA, the best time to catch a glimpse of the meteor shower is a few hours before dawn when the sky is the darkest. Source
  • Russians seek answers to central Moscow GPS anomaly

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MOSCOW - Joggers, taxi drivers, players of Pokemon Go and senior Russian officials are seeking answers as to why mobile phone apps that use GPS are malfunctioning in central Moscow. A programmer for Russian internet firm Yandex, Grigory Bakunov, said Thursday that his research showed a system for blocking GPS was located inside the Kremlin, the heavily-guarded official residence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Source
  • Calgary Zoo opens Canada's 1st greater sage-grouse breeding facility

    Tech & Science CBC News
    There's some good news for one of Canada's most endangered birds. The Calgary Zoo has just opened the first captive breeding facility in the country to help restore the greater sage-grouse population, which experts estimate has fallen below 400 individuals. Source
  • Mystery flares: Edmonton astronomer stumped by his own discovery

    Tech & Science CBC News
    For Edmonton astronomer Gregory Sivakoff, the sight of never-before-seen explosions in space was the find of a lifetime. In two galaxies not so far away, researchers have uncovered two mysterious objects that erupt with powerful X-rays. Source