This week, a judge ordered Apple to help the FBI gain access to the iPhone 5c owned by a San Bernardino shooter. Apple was ordered to bypass the security feature that would erase the 5c’s data after too many failed password attempts. Apple opposed the order, and now the Department of Justice is getting involved.
The DoJ has filed a motion to force Apple to comply with the judge’s order. The motion argues that Apple has the technical ability to comply with the judge’s order, and so it should be required to obey it. The DoJ also argues that Apple isn’t being compelled to create a backdoor, but to “[provide] the FBI with the opportunity to determine the passcode” and that the order allows Apple to keep control of its software at all times. The DoJ went on to say:
“Based on Apple’s recent public statement and other statements by Apple, Apple’s current refusal to comply with the Court’s Order, despite the technical feasibility of doing so, instead appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook said that he opposed the judge’s order to help the FBI gain access to the iPhone 5c because creating a backdoor into iOS could have security implications in the future. “And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control,” Cook wrote in an open letter. The argument is that even though the government says that it’ll only use Apple’s iOS backdoor in this one instance, there’s no guarantee that it may change its mind and try to use it in the future. There’s also the possibility that the backdoor could fall into the hands of other parties and be used for wrong.
Apple hasn’t yet responded to the DoJ’s motion. The company has until February 26 to issue an official response in court to the judge’s order. Until then, you can find a link to the DoJ’s full motion below.