Justice Department seeks to overturn ruling over NY iPhone case
Mar 08, 2016 12:26 AM EST
On Monday, the US Justice Department sought to reverse a ruling that protects Apple from unlocking an encrypted iPhone of a drug defender named Jun Feng, to a higher judge in the Eastern District of New York.
The ruling made last week by a magistrate judge in Brooklyn said that the Justice Department could not force Apple to unlock the phone. Fortune reported that the move was in line with what the department said it would do after a magistrate judge previously favored the tech giant, ruling that the Justice Department could not apply 1789 law or known as the All Writs Act to compel Apple to unlock the phone.
Apple aided prosecutors in unlocking at least 70 iPhones, but decided that it didn't want to serve as the government's helper anymore, says Bloomberg Business. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said in a blog post on Apple's website that the US' demands for iPhone access were a 'chilling' attack on personal privacy. Since then, Apple has refused several requests from the US government in cracking encrypted iPhones to prevent or solve crimes.
The clash between the two parties has intensified a long-running argument over how much law enforcement and intelligence officials should be able to monitor communications via digital devices. The Justice Department cited California's decision as evidence that the All Writs Act has been utilized to force Apple to unlock phones, says Reuters.
Last week, US Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled that he did not have the legal authority under the All Writs Act to direct the tech giant to hand over the data from the phone. The phone involved in the New York drug case belonged to Jun Feng, who pleaded guilty to involvement in a methamphetamine distribution.
Unlike the phone used by San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Rafook, Feng's iPhone had an iOS 7 mobile OS, which is not protected by the same encryption technology. District Court Judge Margot Brodie was asked by the Justice Department to hear the case.