Apple fights back against FBI; Says iPhone decryption order undermines Constitution, laws
Feb 26, 2016 07:00 PM EST
Apple has filed a legal brief opposing the federal court order that permitted the FBI to hack into an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the suspects in the San Bernardino shooting. In its formal response, the technology company asked the court to revoke the order, arguing that it violates constitutional rights to free speech and privacy.
The legal wrangle between Apple and the FBI stemmed from the latter's acquisition of a court order that required Apple to unlock a password-protected iPhone owned by Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino incident.
The request opened a heated discussion over the lengths at which law enforcement and intelligence officials can monitor private communications.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Apple said the security software installed in the iPhone constitutes protected speech and should not be undermined by the Justice Department. CBC reported the tech giant called the government's request "unprecedented" and infringes "Apple's First Amendment rights against compelled speech."
Apple added that the court, in granting the order, acted in excess of its jurisdiction, and the repercussions that follow it would "inflict significant harm - to civil liberties, society and national security - and would pre-empt decisions that should be left to the will of the people through laws passed by Congress and signed by the president," as noted by The New York Times.
In a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, FBI director James B. Comey contended that the real question that should be answered is about "who do we want to be as a country and how do we want to govern ourselves." Comey is firm that the encryption technology is restraining their ability foil criminals and serve justice.
On this, Apple rebutted that while the company supports law enforcements efforts to pursue terrorists and other criminals it will not compromise the rights of its consumers especially when the request order finds no legal merit.
According to Reuters, Apple also maintains that it cannot be subjected to the All Writs Act of 1789 because it is not a utility. Moreover, the company also reiterates that Congress prohibits Apple and other tech companies from creating "backdoors" for their products.
Technology companies such as Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook lauded Apple's keeping its moral ground in the debacle. To show their support for Apple, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer Brad Smith stated the company will file a brief in a federal court in California next week to back Apple. Google, Twitter and Facebook will reportedly follow suit.