[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York [official website] on Monday denied [opinion, PDF] a Department of Justice (DOJ) request to order Apple to disable the security of an iPhone that was seized during a drug investigation. Federal Magistrate Judge James Orenstein concluded that the DOJ failed to establish that the All Writs Act (AWA) [text] permits the relief it sought. The judge concluded that the question to be answered in this case was not whether the government should be able to force Apple to help it unlock a specific device, but whether the AWA resolves the issue. The ruling could influence cases across the country where law enforcement is requesting [NYT report] that Apple help unlock iPhones.
At the end of February, Apple filed [JURIST report] a brief in the US District Court for the Central District of California in opposition of the US government's request for the company to unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter, Syed Rizwan Farook. Counsel for Apple called the case "unprecedented" after the DOJ filed [JURIST report] a motion to compel Apple to unlock the encrypted iPhone. In response to the legal conflict, Apple Inc. asked [JURIST report] the US government to create a panel of experts to discuss issues of security versus privacy. These developments came after Apple refused the initial court order to assist the government in unlocking the iPhone from one of the San Bernardino shooters. The court order required [JURIST report] Apple to supply software to the FBI to disable a self-destruct feature that erases phone data after 10 failed attempts to enter the phone's password.